The Fire went to Foxborough looking to capitalize on the energy they displayed in Austin on Wednesday, where they gave the hosts little reason for hope throughout the game. In the end, they’ll have to content themselves with an away draw that has a bitter tinge of two points lost rather than a point earned.
The Fire, playing their seventh game in 21 days, took to the pitch at Gillette Stadium facing an injury-hobbled – but better rested – New England team. Recognizing the limits of human endurance, Klopas made six changes from the starting lineup that beat Austin in U.S. Open Cup play on Wednesday (some forced by suspensions), often trading tired legs for younger – if less experienced – ones.
Though their recent play has been similar, the Revs entered the game comfortably in a playoff spot (if off the Supporters Shield winning pace they displayed earlier in the season), while the Fire came in one step removed of the basement of the Eastern Conference.
Klopas had a new look for his Fire team, playing them nominally in a 3-4-3 for the first time this year, though in practice they played out of that formation for much of the game against Austin FC midweek. Kendall Burks, Giorgios Koutsias, Wyatt Omsberg and Jairo Torres would all see in league play this year.
The new formation paid off early for the Fire, as they dominated possession and chances early in the first half. Their efforts would pay off early, as Koutsias swiftly converted a beautiful pass from Shaqiri, giving the Fire the opening goal of the match.
The visitors would continue to dominate possession in the early part of the first half, and would again be rewarded, as a Shaqiri switch to Koutsias from the Fire’s half found its way to an advancing Miguel Ángel Navarro, whose pass across the box was deflected off the Revs Andrew Farrell into his own net.
The own goal put the visitors up 2-0, and they seemed comfortable maintaining possession and playing opportunistically until the Revs’ Noel Buck received a pass off of Bobby Wood well outside the box and wired it for an absolute golazo, cutting the Fire’s lead in half.
It wouldn’t take long for the next goal to happen, as Wood, fresh off his assist on the first goal, would himself convert off of a pass by Christian Makoun, equalizing the game, and the two teams would enter go through the tunnel at half time equalized, with the Fire having dominated early and the Revolution growing into the game.
The second half would start a mirror of the first, as the Revolution created and maintained pressure, and the Fire seemed to have no ability to respond. The hosts would dominate possession and chances throughout the first half, and the Fire seemed to have few answers. Things seemed to take a turn for the worse for the Fire in the 58th minute, as Mauricio Pineda left the game following being hit in the head by a ball he didn’t see.
Pineda would leave the match for Rafael Czichos, the stalwart of Chicago’s defense for the past two years, but the run of play would remain unchanged, as the Fire were pinned back in their own end through most of the first half as Klopas looked to his bench for solutions, bringing in Alonso Aceves and Arnaud Souquet, but the substitutions would do little to change the run of play.
New England Head Coach Bruce Arena would also reach for his bench, bringing their DP #10 Carles Gil who had been facing an injury scare in the 62nd minute. The run of play would remain in the Revs’ favor, but the next goal would be Chciago’s, as Souquet won the ball from the Revolution, starting a play that would see half of the Fire’s outfield players involved before Maren Haile-Selassie scored his third of the season.
The Fire were ahead but not comfortable as Arena would again look to his bench, bringing on Justin Rennicks for Emmanuel Boateng and swapping former USMNT strikers Jozy Altidore for Bobby Wood.
The substitutions soon paid off for the hosts as Altidore found himself unmarked at the corner of Chris Brady’s net and had an easy tip in as numerous Fire players looked on helplessly.
The Fire and the Revs would exchange barbs in the closing minutes of the game, and Brady had to be sharp in the 89th minute as he had a solid save off of a Gil free kick. The Fire made attempts at the Revolution goal in the closing minutes, but it would be fair to say that although both teams were acting like they wanted a goal, neither seemed particularly hungry for one, ending the match with a point a piece.
The result is just the second time this year that the Fire have scored points on the road – their first being an away victory against Miami on March 25 – but as so many other draws this leaves the team feeling like they dropped two points rather than gaining one. The team dominated the majority of the first half but were spectators for large parts of the second for what seemed like the 10th time in their 14 matches his season – something Klopas will have little time to try to correct as the team travels to face Toronto on Wednesday.