Fire's loss to Revolution a costly one

Fire's loss to Revolution a costly one

August 18, 2013, 10:00 am
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Len Ziehm

Needless to say, Saturday’s 2-0 road loss to the New England Revolution was a costly one for the Fire.

From a long-range view, it damaged the Fire’s chances of making it into Major League Soccer’s postseason play. On the short-term it put the club in limbo for another big match – a battle with co-Eastern Conference leader Sporting Kansas City on Friday at Toyota Park.

The last 10 minutes of the New England match were chaotic as the Fire fought unsuccessfully to score the tying goal. Pieced together from the TV video and various post-game interviews, here’s what apparently happened.

New England’s Kelvyn Rowe needed medical treatment after a collision with Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini. Rowe was getting it from his team’s trainer, Evan Allen. Fire defender Bakary Soumare protested that Allen was delaying the game, and Allen emphatically denied it.

Fire coach Frank Klopas was also part of the protest, and was dismissed by referee Edwin Jurisevic. Rowe scored in stoppage time, making it a 2-0 game, and Soumare headed for Allen after the match was over. New England forward Saer Sene, a friend of Soumare’s, intervened. He kept Soumare away from Allen and both players were given red cards, though they appeared to be having a peaceful conversation before heading to their respective locker rooms.

Klopas didn’t face the media afterwards, leaving that chore to assistant coach Mike Matkovich. He was reluctant to comment on what happened, as was New England coach Jay Heaps.

"It’s just unfortunate with the events that happened. It’s silly in some ways, but what are you going to do?" said Matkovich. "I don’t know what happened after the game. I just don’t think non-players should be making comments to players on the field, if that’s the case. I don’t know what happened from there. It’s not for me to judge that. But I guess the referee judged it. So, it is what it is. It’s unfortunate, and we’ll move on, brush ourselves off and get ready for the next game."

Heaps wanted to look at the film before commenting.

"I know that there were red cards shown to Soumare and Saer Sene," said Heaps. "I don’t know what exactly transpired to lead to that. It’s two teams going at it, and we’ll see it on film, but there was definitely a lot of emotion."

No question about that, and that emotion may make things more difficult for the Fire against SKC, which is in a battle with the New York Red Bulls for the Eastern Conference lead. The Red Bulls moved into a share of the East lead thanks to a standing point earned in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Philadelphia. Both SKC and New York have 39 points, but SKC could regain the lead when it visits the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.

Generally suspensions come with dismissals and red cards, so the Fire could be without Klopas on the sidelines and Soumare on the field on Friday. The MLS disciplinary committee will address the issue in the next few days.

Even with Klopas and Soumare available the Fire (9-10-4) would be in a difficult spot. Saturday’s loss dropped the club further out of playoff position. The Revs (9-9-6) climbed ahead of the Fire into sixth place and the eighth-place Columbus Crew moved within two points of the Fire with a 2-0 win over Toronto FC in Columbus. That win kept the Crew’s faint playoff hopes alive.

So, going into the next round of matches, the Houston Dynamo holds the fifth and last playoff spot in the East with 36 points in 23 matches. New England is the top challenger with 33 points in 24 matches. The Fire still has a shot, with 31 in 23 and Columbus has 29 in 24. The regular season consists of 34 matches per team.

Saturday’s match saw the Fire allow the opposition to score the first goal for the 17th time this season. Juan Agudelo’s heel-flick chip over Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the 53rd minute merited highlight reel consideration. The Revs had gone 261 minutes without scoring before Agudelo’s great goal, rewarded despite Soumare diving attempt to clear the ball after it crossed the line.

Agudelo was one of five new starters for New England. The 20-year old striker had missed eight games with a knee injury and had recently signed a pre-contract with Stoke City of the English Premier League. He’ll join that club on Jan. 1. Prior to his injury Agudelo had scored four goals in six matches for the Revs.

Mike Magee returned to the Fire lineup after missing a match with a calf strain. He almost tallied his 15th goal of the season in the first half. Magee put one shot off the right post, then banged the rebound at New England goalkeeper Matt Reis, who smothered it. Reis was making his first MLS appearance since March 22.

Magee remained tied with Vancouver’s Camilo Sanvezzo for the lead in the MLS’ Golden Boot race. Sanvezzo’s Whitecaps were 2-0 losers to Colorado on Saturday.

The Fire had all four of its mid-season additions -- Soumare, Magee, Juan Luis Anangano and Arevalo Rios -- in the first 11 for the first time. Rios, the Uruguayan midfielder, made his Fire debut and played all 90 minutes but didn’t stand out. Anangano created some scoring chances with his aggressive play before giving way to Quincy Amarikwa late in the match.

The Fire played again without Patrick Nyarko (concussion) and Chris Rolfe sat out with a hamstring injury. Paladini and Alex were Klopas’ other substitutions, replacing Joel Lindpere and Dilly Duka.

Saturday’s loss snapped a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) for the Fire and extended the club’s winless streak on artificial turf to 11 matches (0-9-2). The Fire last won a game on turf in 2010, at New England.