By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The early-game jinx that has haunted the New England Revolution in recent weeks continued to make its presence felt after a third-minute Quincy Amarikwa goal sent the Fire to a 1-0 win on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
Amarikwa’s sixth goal of the season put the Revolution in a first-half deficit for the fifth straight league match and allowed the Fire to put an end to their six-game winless streak (0-2-4). Meanwhile, the Revolution saw their losing streak go to five.
The Revolution were without starting central midfielder Lee Nguyen, who was serving a one-game suspension for stomping on Real Salt Lake midfielder John Stertzer on July 4. His absence was particularly notable, as the Revolution struggled to string together chances in the first half.
The same, however, could not be said of the Fire. Inside of three minutes, Jeff Larentowicz won the ball back and played it ahead to Mike Magee. The Fire dribbled ahead and sent it through for Amarikwa, who chipped it over Bobby Shuttleworth to open the scoring.
While the Revolution struggled to file a reply, the Fire nearly found the back of the net in the 14th minute. Harry Shipp grabbed a pass from Larentowicz and, with plenty space to operate, dribbled into the area and fired a shot that Shuttleworth stretched to his left to deny.
As if another early deficit wasn't enough of a hurdle for the Revolution to overcome, they were issued another bad hand when Andy Dorman suffered a right knee injury in the 25th minute following a late challenge from Bakary Soumare. Dorman attempted to continue on but was eventually spelled by Scott Caldwell in the 29th minute.
[MORE FIRE: Chicago Fire, MLS seeing popularity spike]
Not long after Dorman’s exit, the Revolution uncovered their best chance of the first half when Caldwell sprung Diego Fagundez down the right side in the 35th minute. The winger then sent a cross that Bunbury missed at the near post before Daigo Kobayashi, who was at the back post, steered it just wide of frame.
An opportunity to tie things up came in the 52nd minute when Kelyn Rowe sent a corner kick near post for Patrick Mullins. But the rookie striker snapped his header well over the bar. Another opporutnity arrived in the 61st minute when Chris Tierney uncorked a free kick from 20 yards that Sean Johnson left his feet to parry right in front of the line.
New England’s intent to equalize remained as the match rolled into the waning stages. In the 76th minute, Andrew Farrell played a ball to Mullins at the top the box, where he issued a right-footed shot that forced Johnson back into action.
While they were able to put pressure on the Fire late, the Revolution were lucky to escape danger in the 78th minute when A.J. Soares misplayed a long ball, allowing Matthew Fondy to find a one-on-one opportunity against Shuttleworth. But Fondy’s finishing let him down, as the shot fell right to the Revolution keeper.
The Revolution's persistence appeared to pay off in the 84th minute after Tierney played a ball into the box for Jerry Bengtson, who was felled by Gonzalo Segares in pursuit of the pass. Referee Jose Carlos Rivero pointed to spot, giving the Revolution a golden opportunity to equalize. But Tierney’s shot from the spot was denied by Johnson, who initially stopped it, then grabbed the trickling rebound right off the line in the 85th minute.
The Revolution will attempt to reverse their fortunes on Wednesday when they play the Los Angeles Galaxy at the StubHub Center. The Fire return home to host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.