The Chicago Fire (12-7-5; 41 pts.) got goals from strike tandem Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald to defeat the New England Revolution (6-13-5; 23 pts.) 2-1 Saturday night at Toyota Park. The win, the Fire’s third in a row, places the Men in Red into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with the New York Red Bulls.
It took the Fire just five minutes to get on the board as Patrick Nyarko played Chris Rolfe into the box from the left. The veteran Fire striker took the ball in stride before being chopped down by A.J. Soares, forcing referee Sorin Soica to immediately point to the penalty spot. Rolfe stepped up and placed his effort off the left post and past Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis to give the Fire a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute. It was Rolfe’s fifth goal on the season and 41st in a Fire uniform.
Following the goal, the Revolution threatened right away as forward Saer Sene picked up a loose ball at midfield, shooting a low dipping ball from distance that forced Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson into a diving save in the 9th minute.
Continuing to pour on the pressure, New England would find the equalizer just two minutes later when Sene chased down a ball out of midfield, entered the box on the left and centered for Fernando Cardenas. Falling down, the Colombian midfielder got a foot to the ball, deflecting it off Austin Berry before it came back of Cardenas and squeaked inside the left post in the 11th minute.
The Fire threatened again in the 20th minute when Patrick Nyarko settled the ball at midfield before slotting charging defender Gonzalo Segares into the box on the left but the Costa Rican international over hit his cross.
The pair would link up five minutes later to create the go-ahead goal when Segares’ throw-in on the left put Nyarko into the box. The Ghanaian winger crossed at the endline and found MacDonald who nodded his first Fire goal down past, giving the side a 2-1 lead. In opening his MLS account, MacDonald became the 12thdifferent Fire player to score during the 2012 MLS campaign.
Continuing to pressure late into the half the Fire came close on a frenzied sequence in the 42nd minute. Right back Jalil Anibaba beat two Revolution defenders on the right but saw his cross turned away by Revs defender A.J. Soares right back to Rolfe. The Fire striker rolled back up the right side before crossing to the back post where Nyarko nodded it down across goal before MacDonald popped the ball up in the air. Rolfe pounced on the ball at the near post before forcing New England defender Chris Tierney to put it out for a corner kick.
On the ensuing corner, Pavel Pardo’s take from the right was nodded towards the back post by Arne Friedrich before MacDonald’s follow-up header went just wide, leaving the score at 2-1 as the teams headed to the locker room.
Coming out of the break, the Fire looked to put the game away beginning in the 50th minute when Stephen McCarthy mishandled a back pass allowing MacDonald entry into the box but the Dutchman’s poke trickled just wide of Reis’ goal.
Four minutes later MacDonald forced Revs defender Stephen McCarthy to clear a dangerous ball directly to Rolfe. The forward crossed from the right looking for Nyarko who put it back for Alvaro Fernandez at the top of the box. The Uruguayan international took the ball and pushed a first-time half volley towards goal that forced Reis to parry it out for a corner kick.
The Fire came close again the 73rd minute when Pardo’s corner from the right was headed inside the right post by Anibaba before being cleared off the line by Cardenas. Second half substitute Dominic Oduro was on the doorstep with a follow-up but his ambitious bicycle attempt went high over the bar.
Pushing for the third goal, Friedrich moved forward to break up an errant pass and drove towards goal before unleashing a blast that forced Reis to push the ball over the bar in the 80th minute.
Pardo got in on the action on the ensuing corner kick when Marco Pappa’s take was nodded down at the back post by Michael Videira. Set up just outside the box, Pardo stepped up and bulleted a first-time effort that whistled just over the frame.
In the 86th minute it was Oduro’s turn who ran on to a break up pass at midfield from Daniel Paladini. The Ghanaian sped towards Revolution defenders Tierney and McCarthy before going to the right and sliding his shot just wide of goal.
Into stoppage time, Oduro continued to be a pest to New England as they pushed forward for the equalizer. This time, Paladini jumped to block Tierney’s cross and the ball bounced to McCarthy at the midfield stripe but Oduro dispossessed the Revs defender and walked in on goal before seeing his shot from the top of the 18 deflected for a corner kick by Ryan Guy.
Unable to put the game away, the Revolution remained in the game until the end. Hurrying forward in the 95th minute, Tierney collected a loose ball on the left that Austin Berry headed directly to Soares. The defender’s desperate effort was directed inside the right post but Johnson pulled off a spectacular diving save to seal the 2-1 victory.