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MLS Playoffs: New England and Chicago All Tied Up

The New England Revolution and Chicago Fire drew 0-0 in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday night at Foxboro Stadium. Chicago now are firm favorites to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with the return leg taking place November 6th in Chicago.

The Revolution have knocked Chicago out of postseason each of the last three years, including twice in the conference championship, but this is Revolution team that is decimated by injury and suspension. Last night the Revolution were playing without injured captain Steve Ralston (broken leg) and forward Taylor Twellman (concussion-like symptoms), while midfielder Khano Smith was suspended two matches by the league for what it called “an egregious challenge” on Kansas City Wizards forward Herculez Gomez last weekend.

“It’s the playoffs, I hope guys step up,” said NE goalkeeper Matt Reis. “We got to play our best otherwise it’s going to be an early exit. Like I said, (Revolution coach Steve Nicol) brought us in, we have a game plan going, and we followed it and we really did good job out there.”

Chicago Fire coach Denis Hamlett was happy with the tie:

“We are glad to be going home and use the home field to our advantage. That is why we fought so hard during the year to finish in second place. We need to get back home and take care of business. We knew that they were going to put a competitive team on the field. They are still the defending Eastern Conference champions. We knew that this was going to be a hard game. We didn’t come in here thinking that with missing all these guys that it was going to be an easy game, because if we did that, we would have basically just set ourselves up for failure.”

Five yellow cards were distributed in this one. Midfielders Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Logan Pause and defender Bakary Soumare were carded for Chicago, while forward Kenny Mansally and midfielder Mauricio Castro were also issued yellow cards.

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