FOXBOROUGH — Gustavo Bou returned to the starting lineup but the Revolution failed to find the range in playing to a 0-0 tie with the Chicago Fire Wednesday night.
Bou, the Revolution’s leading scorer (seven goals), changed the attacking dynamic, but failed to finish in his first start since July 16.
The Revolution (8-9-11, 35 points) survived two VAR calls that went against them in the first half, then rallied in the late going as Damian Rivera hit the right post and Carles Gil’s shot was saved in the 85th minute.
The Revolution, who conclude a three-game home stand against New York City Sunday, went to a two-forward setup as Justin Rennicks joined Bou up front in the 80th minute but could not convert through the final 10 minutes, plus four minutes of added time.
In the first half, the Revolution surrendered a penalty following a VAR review, Djordje Petrovic saving on Chris Mueller (22d), then had a goal disallowed following a review (25th). Referee Marcos DeOliveira and linesman Jose Da Silva erred on the original calls but the review decisions were correct.
The Fire (8-13-7, 31 points) earned a penalty kick on Jhon Duran’s close-in shot (19th), deflected by Henry Kessler, who was cautioned for handling nearly three minutes later, following a VAR replay. Two minutes later, Gil’s backheel to DeJuan Jones went over the touch line, play continuing as Tommy McNamara finished at the back post, before the score was nullified.
The Revolution, who extended their winless streak to four games (0-2-2), are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a point out of playoff contention, with six games remaining.
Observations from Wednesday’s game:
▪ Defining Moment: Rivera’s shot off the post, Gil’s rebound deflected (85th). The Revolution struggled against the Fire’s defending tactics, but went all out in attack in the final minutes, and finally appeared on the verge of breaking through. The Fire back line could not close down Rivera or Gil, but neither could connect.
▪ Difference-maker: Petrovic made his third penalty kick save of the season and also tipped a Duran shot over the bar (60th). Petrovic provides exceptional shot-stopping ability, and has adjusted to the Revolution up-tempo style of play since replacing Matt Turner. The Revolution surrendered zero penalties in the first 16 games, but have given up nine penalties in the last 12 games.
▪ Tactical analysis: Opposing teams set up to defend at all costs, hoping to counter attack, at Gillette Stadium. This games played out with the Revolution going forward, leaving openings in the back, but the Fire’s single-striker counter seldom was effective.
▪ Statistical analysis: The Revolution were credited with 31 crosses, but few of them troubled the Fire back line. Headers by Bou (55th) and McNamara (56th) were well-taken but saved. The team’s aerial threat has diminished greatly since the departure of Adam Buksa (transfer to RC Lens).
In the last eight games, the Revolution have scored seven times, only one goal by a forward — Rennicks in a 2-2 tie at Toronto FC on Aug. 17.
The Revolution have played to four 0-0 ties this season. In Bruce Arena’s first 2½ seasons with the team, it played to six 0-0 ties. Arena continues to emphasize offensive play, sending outside backs Brandon Bye and Jones into the attack, but the Revolution have lacked a finishing touch. Gil, last season’s MVP, continues to prove to be among the league’s best setup midfielders, but converting is not his strength — in 95 MLS games, Gil has totaled 20 goals (eight penalty kicks).
▪ Road ahead: Before this homestand, Arena said he hoped the team could earn at least 7 points in three games. Now, the best the Revolution can do is get to 4 points with a win over NYC FC. After that game, the Revolution visit the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo.
▪ What they said: “[Bou] has been off way too long,” Arena said. “I think we made a mistake with his rehabilitation. He should have been back on the field a lot sooner and it’s now not easy to have to come in at this point in the year, without a lot of training and games behind you. So, it’s challenging. Gustavo is being a warrior. He’s battling through it. He played 90 minutes tonight and I’m sure he’s going to feel it over the next couple days. But he’s just missed too much training over the last month or so.”
REVOLUTION-CHICAGO FIRE, 0-0
REVOLUTION: Djordje Petrovic; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones; Matt Polster, Lucas Maciel (Emmanuel Boateng 72d); Tommy McNamara (Damian Rivera 72d), Carles Gil, Noel Buck (Justin Rennicks 80th); Gustavo Bou.
CHICAGO: Gabriel Slonina; Boris Sekulic, Carlos Teran, Jonathan Bornstein, Miguel Angel Navarro; Andre Reynolds II (Mauricio Pineda 59th), Fabian Herbers, Federico Navarro, Brian Gutierrez (Xherdan Shaqiri 80th), Chris Mueller (Jhon Espinoza 71st); Jhon Duran.
Referee: Marcos DeOliveira. Goals: None. Attendance: 13,325.