FOXBOROUGH — The Revolution closed in on their first Supporters’ Shield by playing to a 2-2 tie with the Chicago Fire, but they twice surrendered the lead before a season-high crowd of 28,414 Saturday night.
Gustavo Bou’s 76th-minute goal appeared sufficient for a victory, but the Revolution struggled to protect the lead, Ignacio Aliseda equalizing in the 88th minute.
The Revolution (20-4-6, 66 points), who visit D.C. United on Wednesday, continue to lead the overall MLS standings and moved within 7 points of clinching the Supporters’ Shield, but seemed frustrated by the result.
“We’re not happy with the tie, for sure,” Revolution midfielder Emmanuel Boateng said. “You can go into the locker room, everybody’s [ticked] off, it seemed like we lost. So I think that’s a good mentality for this group. I know Monday everybody is going to come back in training ready to fight and get us ready for the next game.”
Both teams appeared stale following a 17-day break, but the Revolution rallied with the second-half additions of Boateng, Tajon Buchanan, and Adam Buksa.
The Revolution, 11-1-3 at home, extended their unbeaten streaks of nine games at home (6-0-3) and seven games overall (5-0-2). Chicago (7-16-7, 28 points) snapped a four-game road losing streak.
Wilfrid Kaptoum opened the scoring with his first goal of the season, finishing from just outside the penalty arc as the Fire struggled to clear a corner kick in the 47th minute. Alvaro Medran’s back post finish off a Jhon Jairo Espinoza cross tied the score in the 49th minute, the sequence starting with a throw-in on the left, Espinoza taking possession unmarked on the right.
The Revolution squandered several chances before Bou chipped Gabriel Slonina for his 14th goal of the season. Gil set up the score, lofting a long pass to the edge of the penalty area, the ball holding up on the artificial surface, Bou then lobbing from about 15 yards. Gil was credited with his 17th assist of the season.
“We should have won that game,” Revolution sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena said. “We had chances to get the third goal. We should have been better closing out the game at the end. I think we had plenty of opportunities to get the third goal and the ball had to move a little quicker. Then, the decision making on the ball had to be better.”
Observations from Saturday’s game:
⋅ The Revolution struggled to close out the match, partly because they continued to attack, rather than using traditional “sit back and defend” tactics. Arena started with three holding midfielders — Kaptoum, Tommy McNamara, and Matt Polster. For most of the second half, only Polster remained on the field. The offense-first strategy nearly paid off as the Revolution took the lead and continued creating chances, but failed to convert in the late going. “The third goal was staring at us and we didn’t finish off a few plays,” Arena said. “But I thought Boateng, Buksa, and Buchanan did well. I think Tajon had to make some better decisions on the ball.”
⋅ Revolution right back Brandon Bye struggled with passing and positioning, but his long ball to Bou set up a 2-on-1 with Bou and Buksa in the 63rd minute. Asked if Bye had a problem with “ball watching,” Arena replied: “He continues to have some of those issues. He should be at this point in his career, with the number of games he’s had, better in those situations. So, it’s got to get better, for sure.”
⋅ Bou was involved in several chances before breaking the deadlock. Bou failed to catch up to a Gil cross (38th); he slipped a pass to DeJuan Jones, whose shot was saved (46th), in the corner leading to Kaptoum’s goal; he had Buksa open on a breakaway, but sent his pass directly at Johan Kappelhof (63rd). Bou then had a chance for another goal, his shot was knocked away for a corner (87th).
⋅ The Revolution appeared vulnerable defensively in the first half. Matt Turner tipped an Alvaro Medran shot over the bar (32d), then Andrew Farrell made two stops and Bye another during a 34th-minute Fire flurry. In the second half, telegraphed passes from Bye and Henry Kessler led to free kicks.
⋅ The Revolution played before their largest home crowd since 28,602 arrived for a 2-0 win over New York City FC, a result that clinched a playoff berth in the final home game of the 2019 season. This was the first time this season the Revolution defended the goal in front of The Fort section of the stadium.
REVOLUTION-CHICAGO FIRE 2-2
REVOLUTION: Matt Turner; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Carles Gil, Tommy McNamara (Tajon Buchanan 58th), Matt Polster, Wilfrid Kaptoum (Emmanuel Boateng 68th); Teal Bunbury (Adam Buksa 58th), Gustavo Bou.
CHICAGO: Gabriel Slonina; Johan Kappelhof, Maurico Pineda, Jonathan Bornstein; Jhon Jairo Espinoza (Wyatt Omsberg 77th), Federico Navarro (Elliot Collier 81st), Alvaro Medran, Stanislav Ivanov (Brian Gutierrez 69th), Ignacio Aliseda, Miguel Navarro; Robert Beric (Chinonso Offor 69th).
Referee: Joseph Dickerson. Goals: Kaptoum 47th, Medran 49th, Bou 76th, Aliseda 88th. Attendance: 28,414.
Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.