A lack of quality in the final third leaves the Fire susceptible to failure time and again. Just one mistake or lapse in the back continues to be the difference on the road in close games. Chicago probably played well enough to get a result in this match but again did just enough to not do so.
The mistake in this match was a botched clearance of a corner kick by Sean Johnson in the 85th minute. The error was even more frustrating given that Johnson had almost single handedly kept New England from taking the lead in the minutes leading up to the goal. "It's my responsibility because I ask our goalkeepers to every time it's possible to try to catch the ball, so we move forward, we learn from everything and we're happy with the performance because Sean had fantastic saves today," said Veljko Paunovic after the match.
The astonishing road winless streak is now at 35 games and realistic hopes of making a charge at a playoff spot took a big hit with this result. Chicago is now 9 points behind New England for the sixth spot in the East but do have two games in hand. The rematch between these two teams on August 9 in the US Open Cup semifinal seems to be the Fire's best hope of salvaging something from 2016.
"Sometimes you win, sometimes you have to go with the good game today on the road where I think we were a very good team, very competitive, I think we deserved more but in the end, as I always say, you get what you actually deserve," said Paunovic.
He's correct about the last part.
GK Sean Johnson (5.5) - This grade is lowered a tick for this mistake in hesitating to clear out the ball which led to the goal but Johnson kept the Revolution from taking the lead several times. Credited with a whopping 10 saves in the match, and some were of very high quality. Just before the goal, the Fire were under siege with Johnson stopping Diego Fagundez three times in two minutes. ""I thought we fought well for 90 minutes, obviously giving away the late goal was disappointing after fighting so hard, but you go down fighting, try to do the best you can to grind out a result and it just didn't come off and I'll take that one on me, and really look to come out next week and do it all over again," said Johnson after the match.
D Johan Kappelhof (5.5) - Played at right back to get Meira in at center back for some reason. Not as dynamic as Ramos is in the attack but solid nonetheless.
D Joao Meira (5) - Took a physical beating as the recipient of several hard fouls and elbows. Perhaps his own hesitation to attack the ball in the 85th led to Johnson charging out too far and too late. The Fire played what appears to be their first choice line-up in this match with Meira being the exception.
D Jonathan Campbell (5.5) - New England's Kei Kamara wasn't particularly effective and didn't get free too often but there were plenty of looks generated on the Fire goal.
D Brandon Vincent (5) - The Fire's "all-star" representative had a difficult time with Teal Bunbury, throughout the match.
M Matt Polster (5.5) - Polster had a high pass completion ratio (35/41) but not much of that helped link anything going forward. He wasn't bad but the Fire will continue to struggle offensively until the front attackers find the ball in better position.
M Khaly Thiam (5.5) - Like Polster, passing was acceptable (32/39) but not dangerous. New England also found way too much space in front of the backline. The Revs were able to get 11 of their 18 shot attempts on frame.
M Kennedy Igboananike (4.5) - He'll continue to frustrate the attack if decision making and shot selection don't improve. None of his six attempt were on target.
M John Goossens (5) - He might be the Fire's best option in the 'playmaking' spot of the 4-2-3-1 alignment and that says a lot about what the team needs to address in this window if they're going to do anything but hope again. 22/27 isn't bad but again, not much was dangerous.
M David Accam (5.5) - A good combination with de Leeuw and Thiam almost led to a chance in the 44th. His shot attempt in the 57th was deflected in the 57th and almost found its way to Goossens in front of goal. A through ball to de Leeuw in the 67th led to a chance. Those were the Fire's offensive highlights on the night.
F Michael de Leeuw (5.5) - He's not going to be able to do much without some help. Didn't see much of the ball and his one attempt in the 67th was just wide. Still exhibits quality with off-the-ball work but it still needs to get to him once in a while.
M Micheal Stephens (5) - Replaced Igboananike in the 76th as Paunovic tried a formation shift that yielded little offensively.
M Arturo Alvarez (5) - Subbed in for Campbell in the 89th. Too little time to make an impact.