Benny Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe each scored one goal and assisted on the other as the New England Revolution claimed a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night at rain-soaked Gillette Stadium.
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis made three saves to guide New England to its second shutout of the season. The victory was the Revolution’s first regular-season triumph over the Fire since May 6, 2007, snapping a 10-game winless run (0-7-3) in the series.
Rowe – who played 120 minutes in Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup loss to the Harrisburg City Islanders – entered the match in the 64th minute and scored what proved to be the game-winning goal just five minutes later. The Revolution rookie then turned provider, setting up Feilhaber for an insurance tally in the 73rd minute.
Feilhaber partnered Shalrie Joseph in central midfield with both Clyde Simms (L ankle tendonitis) and Ryan Guy (R calf tightness) out through injury, while Colombians Fernando Cardenas and Jose Moreno returned to the Revolution’s starting lineup at right midfield and forward, respectively.
New England (5-7-1, 16 pts.) was on the front foot in the opening stages and the home side almost broke through in the third minute when Feilhaber’s 25-yard rocket sailed inches wide of the right post after a clever layoff from Moreno. Chicago (5-5-3, 18 pts.) went even closer in the 17th minute, hitting the woodwork when Gonzalo Segares’ flicked header from Pavel Pardo’s free kick slammed off the face of the post.
Those early chances proved to be the highlights of a quiet first half in which both sides worked hard to adjust to the wet conditions, including swirling winds and sheets of rain throughout.
The second half almost got off to a rousing start as the Fire hit its second post of the night in the 48th minute. Orr Barouch couldn’t connect on Pardo’s right-wing cross, but the ball popped straight to Dominic Oduro, who snapped a powerful header which beat Reis but kicked off the left post.
Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson came up huge in the 65th minute to temporarily keep the game scoreless, denying Rowe in a one-on-one situation. Just moments after entering the match, Rowe was sent clear behind Chicago’s backline by Saer Sène. Johnson advanced off his line as Rowe entered the box and kicked the shot away with a quick reaction.
Rowe got his revenge four minutes later, however, beating Johnson to give the Revs a 1-0 lead with his second goal of the season. Feilhaber was the creator, playing the ball into Rowe’s path as he made a darting run from the right wing into the box. Rowe almost lost control of the ball with his first touch, but quickly recovered before poking a shot inside the right post from near the penalty spot.
The roles were reversed in the 73rd minute when Rowe set up Feilhaber for his first goal of the season as the Revs extended their lead to 2-0. It was a give-and-go down the right side which sprung Feilhaber into the box and the 27-year-old midfielder made no mistake with his first touch, blasting a shot low under Johnson.
New England continued to pour on the pressure and almost found a third goal before the 75th minute as both Sène and Stephen McCarthy forced Johnson into quality saves, but further insurance wasn’t necessary as Reis and the Revolution backline held on for the clean sheet.
The Revs will be off next weekend and won’t return to action until Saturday, June 16, when they’ll host the Columbus Crew in another Eastern Conference showdown. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.