The New England Revolution and Chicago Fire played 90 minutes of preseason soccer with few chances before a Keyln Rowe stoppage time strike gave the Revolution a late win in their penultimate preseason match at the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Ariz.
Rowe’s calm finish – after some impressive set-up play with Diego Fagundez – came in the 91st after rookie Patrick Mullins won a long ball from goalkeeper Brad Knighton and found Rowe after some nice hold-up play. The goal was Rowe’s team leading second of the preseason
The win temporarily leaves the Revolution (1-1-1, 4 points) in third place in the Desert Diamond Cup preseason tournament, which would set them up for a rematch with Chivas USA – who handed the team their first preseason loss, 3-2, on Saturday – in their final preseason match. Real Salt Lake could alter the standings with a high scoring win later tonight against FC Tucson. New England is now 2-1-3 overall this preseason.
Despite the loss – the Fire’s first of the preseason – Chicago (2-1-0, 6 points) finishes atop the Desert Diamond Cup standings.
New England started the match with a line-up mostly devoid of expected starters, while the Fire opened with close to their first eleven.
The match started in open fashion with each side exchanging early chances. Dilly Duka had the first quality chance for the Fire in the third minute when he found space down the left flank into the box. Duka’s initial shot was blocked by O’Brian Woodbine, but the rebound came right back to him. Duka’s second effort rolled just wide of the far past.
Two minutes later it was New England on the attack and Alec Sundly blasting a shot from distance that was targeted for just under the crossbar after a layoff from Dimitry Imbongo. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson just managed to tip the effort over the bar.
The match settled down from there with quality chances becoming few and far between. Still, Duka had a another good chance for the Fire in the 29th minute, this time getting the ball in the right side of the box. Duka hit a low shot on frame, but again a Revolution defender was there to the shot, with Darrius Barnes making the sliding block on this occasion.
The Fire’s best chance of the half came in the 33rd minute when Duka sent a right-footed cross into the box from the left flank. Former Revolution midfielder Jeff Larentowicz got on the end of the service and slid in to redirect the cross, but goalkeeper Brad Knighton made an impressive diving stop to keep the match scoreless.
The Fire made wholesale changes at the half, while New England made just two, bringing on two trialists in Jamel Johnson and Goka Larrea. New England made wholesale changes of their own around the hour mark, with many of the club’s expected starters coming on, as well as trialist and former team captain Shalrie Joseph, though his time was cut short with an injury about 15 minutes after entering.
The second half started about as quietly as the first ended, but substitute Quincy Amarikwa sparked the game to life after a turnover by the Revolution defense in the 62nd minute. Amarikwa ran in alone on goal, but Knighton got down to make a big save.
New England threatened in the 74th minute when Rowe’s corner kick was punched out by substitute ‘keeper Kyle Reynish. The ball fell to Steve Neuman outside the box, who blasted a shot on frame, but a sliding Patrick Ianni slid in to block the shot.
A minute later it was Rowe with a chance as he dribbled towards the left side of the box. The third year midfielder hit a low shot on frame, but Reynish dove to knock it wide for a corner kick.
Chris Tierney then had a chance for New England in the 81st minute after a Jossimar Sanchez cross from the right flank fell to him in the box. Tierney then took a touch around a defender, but couldn’t beat an onrushing Reynish, who deflected the ball out for a corner.
Amarikwa put Knighton to the test again in the 86th minute when he found some room outside the box and hit a low shot towards the far corner. Knighton was up to the task and dove to push the ball wide.
Rowe finally scored the game’s lone goal in the first minute of stoppage time after a great build-up. A long punt from Knighton was controlled by rookie Patrick Mullins, who held off a defender and sent a pass to Rowe. Rowe flicked it to Diego Fagundez who immediately sent it back to Rowe making a run into the box, and the creative midfielder finished past Reynish to make it 1-0.
Amarikwa then nearly equalized seconds after the ensuing kickoff, but his effort was denied by the bar and the referee blew the final whistle seconds later.
New England’s final preseason match will take place on Saturday at a time and against an opponent still to be determine in the last matchday of the Desert Diamond Cup.