By IAN HOLLIDAY
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution played better than the visiting Chicago Fire for the first 70 minutes of their match Saturday night at Gillette Stadium, but the hosts couldn't capitalize on their many chances, and were lucky to finish the match's last 20 minutes with a 1-1 draw intact.
Danish import Rajko Lekic scored for the Revs in the 48th minute to cancel out a 32nd minute Dominic Oduro goal for the Fire that had come on a well-worked counterattack.
The Revs outshot the Fire 11 to 4 in the first half, but still went into halftime down 1-0. After the match, Revolution head coach Steve Nicol said he was disappointed with the result considering how well his team had played.
"It feels like a loss," Nicol said. "We come in at halftime one down when we should be three up."
The draw keeps the two sides level on 15 points, with the Fire at 2-4-9 and the Revolution at 3-7-6.
Chicago players felt Lekic was offside on his equalizer, but replays showed the Dane even with the last defender when Pat Phelan put a short Fire clearance back into the box. Lekic settled and curled a shot past goalkeeper Sean Johnson for his second MLS goal.
After the equalizer, the Fire began coming to life, and in the 73rd minute, the club had its best chance to take the lead back. Oduro rose highest in the box on a corner kick and headed toward the far post, beating Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, but not second-half substitute Ryan Guy, who cleared the ball off the line.
"When you're on the post, that's the only thing you're expecting is the ball coming," said Guy of the play. "I did what anyone else on the team would have done and just cleared it away."
Guy, making his first appearance for the Revs since signing on June 9, effectively saved the draw for the Revolution, which failed to threaten for the rest of the match.
The Fire poured it on in the final 20 minutes of the match, forcing several good saves from Reis. The hosts had a 19-13 edge in total shots at the end of the game, but the visitors outshot their opponents 7-3 after the 70th minute.
The Revs had the better of the possession in the first half, but the Fire had the better of the finishing. While the Revs put shot after shot high or wide or right at Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson, Nyarko and Oduro linked up for a beautiful counterattack goal.
A Revolution free kick was cleared to Nyarko, who shrugged off Sainey Nyassi and found a streaking Oduro, who buried a low shot from 20 yards out.
Oduro had put the ball in the net just two minutes earlier, but he was ruled offside after collecting a short past from Diego Chaves in the Revolution box.
The Revolution's best chance of the first half came in the 38th minute, when Nyassi – who was as influential for the Revs' attack as Nyarko and Oduro were for the Fire's – found his fellow Gambian Kenny Mansally with a chipped cross to the 5-yard box. Mansally couldn't keep his point-blank header below the crossbar.
Saturday's match was the first of three in eight days for the Chicago Fire, and the last of a similar stretch for the Revolution. Chicago returns home to face Real Salt Lake on Wednesday before hosting the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. The Revs next match will be Sunday at Seattle Sounders FC.