The result was Chicago's second straight loss in the first week of 2013.
Grim first half
The first half was grim, with both the Revolution and Chicago Fire randomly booting the ball up and down the field, the hallmark of bad soccer in the USA, and foreshadowing a potentially dismal season for both sides. The skill-less tactics were a giant step back for New England, a team that spent 2012 developing a more technical, aesthetically entertaining style of play.
Breaking news: Borderline first division teams and players cannot afford to play like the Revolution and Chicago Fire did Saturday night. It didn't really matter who won or who lost because a game played like that is not worth watching.
Too many rookies for season opener
The Revolution have started at least two rookies in their season opener in four of the last five years, indicative of their low position in the MLS table.
Neither team had any traction until young Kelyn Rowe replaced rookie midfielder Donnie Smith in the 53rd minute. Smith had no business featuring in the season opener and if the coaching staff cite "injury bug" they just did a bad job building the roster.
The Revolution's back line - Kevin Alston, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares and rookie Andrew Farrell - was worse than last season and employed a strategy of boinking the ball down the field. It seemed to be their only remarkable defensive skill set. The game was a decidedly bad debut for the No. 1 2013 SuperDraft pick (Farrell) and "big" international signings Goncalves and midfielder Kalifa Cisse. Last season's sensation Lee Nguyen was equally unimpressive.
Chicago was just as bad and not worth analyzing except that defender Austin Berry is class and designated player Sherjill MacDonald underwhelming.
Rowe and Fagundez show up
Jerry Bengtson scored the game’s only goal in the 62nd minute, nodding the ball down into the net after Kelyn Rowe and Juan Toja combined to create the chance. It was Rowe's sixth career assist and he looks to be a key player for New England in 2013. Skillful young Diego Fagundez was also a breath of fresh air when he replaced Juan Toja in the 79th minute and created offensive pressure with sharp vision and creative plays.
New England goalkeeper Matt Reis and Chicago keeper Sean Johnson kept both teams in the game, with Reis earning his 71st career shut-out.
The Revolution next visit the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, March 16. Kickoff from PPL Park is set for 5 p.m.
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New England Revolution at Chicago Fire
March 9, 2013 – Toyota Park (Bridgeview, Ill.)
New England Revolution 1, Chicago Fire 0
NE – Jerry Bengtson (Kelyn Rowe) 62
New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Kevin Alston, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell, Donnie Smith (Kelyn Rowe 53), Clyde Simms, Kalifa Cisse, Lee Nguyen, Juan Toja (Diego Fagundez 79), Jerry Bengtson (Chad Barrett 90)
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Scott Caldwell, Andy Dorman, Darius Barnes
STATS: Shots 9, Shots on Target 3, Corner Kicks 4, Saves 4, Fouls 21, Offsides 1, Passes (percentage) 324 (68.2%), Possession 46.2%
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Steven Kinney, Jalil Anibaba, Patrick Nyarko, Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere, Dilly Duka (Yazid Atouba Emane 58), Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 46); Chris Rolfe (Alex 66)
Substitutes Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Daniel Paladini, Wells Thompson, Michael Videira,
STATS: Shots 8, Shots on Target 4, Corner Kicks 0, Saves 2, Fouls 13, Offsides 5, Passes (percentage) 383 (70.0%), Possession 53.8%
CHI – Jeff Larentowicz (caution) 55
NE – Diego Fagundez (caution) 86
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Kermit Quisenberry, Paul Scott
Fourth Official: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: Clear and 40 degrees
New England Revolution – 1-0-0 (3 pts.)
Chicago Fire – 0-2-0 (0 pts.)