FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —
Shalrie Joseph scored in the 75th minute to lift the New England
Revolution to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Sunday in the
opening game of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Chris Rolfe opened the scoring for Chicago in 17th minute, and Emmanuel Osei tied it for New England seconds before halftime.
The teams conclude the two-leg series at Toyota Park on Saturday.
"We didn't start particularly great early on," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "But we got the win that we wanted."
The Fire tested the Revolution
defense early, as Brian McBride headed a pair of passes that went wide
of the net just before the 10th minute.
The Fire finally capitalized when
Marco Pappa went down the right side and sent a wide-angled shot that
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis failed to smother. Rolfe captured it
and scored to put Chicago ahead.
McBride nearly made it 2-0 just two
minutes later when he took a pass from Pappa and rocketed a shot that
beat Reis but clanked off the left post.
New England started to carry the play
offensively after the 20th minute, with Jeff Larentowicz sending a pair
of close shots as the Revolution kept the pressure on the Fire through
One of Larentowicz's opportunities
came in the 26th, when Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch journeyed well off
his line to challenge Joseph on a long ball. Busch fell down and
Larentowicz had a clear shot at the unmanned goal, but sent a shot
through that ricocheted off the far post.
"We didn't do much for the first 10 to 15 minutes — we got frustrated," Nicol said. "But after that, we began to play loose."
The Revs continued to attack and
Osei nearly recorded his first MLS goal in the 40th minute when his
25-yard shot skimmed off the near corner of the net.
Osei didn't have to wait long for
another chance. Two minutes into first-half extra time, Kenny Mansally delivered a
free kick that Osei deflected past Busch for the tying goal.
The Fire battled back early in the
second half and nearly went ahead when Pappa's long-distance shot hit
the bar and bounced off the goal line in the 71st minute.
The Revolution quickly took
advantage of their good fortune. Four minutes later, Larentowicz
directed the ball toward Joseph, who fired it through to give his club
New England withstood Chicago's push for the tie in the final 15 minutes.
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