By CARL SETTERLUND
The Chicago Fire entered Saturday afternoon’s home match against the New England Revolution with ties in each of its previous five games. Although the final result saw that run extended to six games, it wasn’t for lack of late drama.
First half goals by the Fire’s red-hot Quincy Amarikwa and New England’s Lee Nguyen secured a 1-1 result in front of 15,743 at Toyota Park, but they saved plenty of fireworks for the end after Amarikwa’s second yellow card in the 73rd minute.
Chicago looked strong and motivated after being reduced to 10 men, but the final finishing touch just wasn’t there as Juan Luis Anangonó delivered a penalty kick right into the purview of Revs keeper Bobby Shuttleworth in stoppage time.
“Tough one,” Chicago coach Frank Yallop said. “Déjà vu from the last home game we had. Should have four more points than we’ve got. The team kept going, fighting, and that’s good. It feels empty because of the way we have put a lot of effort into the games we’ve had and you don’t get rewarded for it.
The golden opportunity to steal three points came after Mike Magee got in behind the defense and sent it off the right post in the 90th minute. Victor Pineda came screaming in for a follow-up, but Revolution defender Kevin Alston blocked it off the line with his arm, resulting in a straight red card from referee Sorin Stoica.
Shuttleworth couldn’t control Anangonó’s penalty try, but Chicago captain Jeff Larentowicz’s follow-up was deflected by Shuttleworth and Andy Dorman quickly cleared it away.
“When you give a penalty kick in the 90th minute, to get out of here after that with a draw and a huge save, we’ll take it,” said Revolution coach Heaps, whose team moved to 2-3-2 (8 points).
The heartbreaking finale for Chicago (0-1-6, 6 points) comes two weeks after a similar ending in a 2-2 draw versus Philadelphia in which Magee came up short on a 95th-minute penalty.
“It was bizarre,” Larentowicz said. “To see that once is tough, but twice is even worse. It is tough to take.”
Yallop said he had no role in Anangonó taking the penalty over other candidates such as Magee and Larentowicz.
“Juan stepped up and grabbed the ball, and that’s just what happened,” Larentowicz said. “As the captain and the one who’s made a penalty this year I should have been the one to take the penalty but I didn’t – that’s on me, not on Juan.”
Amarikwa picked up his fourth goal of the season in the 16th minute after a long Harry Shipp through-ball from midfield split the Revs defense. Amarikwa ran onto the ball with pace, muscling away center back Andrew Farrell and beating the fast-approaching Shuttleworth with a low burner to make it 1-0.
“The ball came back to Harry, I had space in the middle, pointed and he put the ball right where I wanted him to,” Amarikwa said. “I took my first touch into the box, put a bit of my body on Farrell, saw that the keeper’s legs were open and put the ball between his legs and that was that.”
The 26-year-old was handed a borderline yellow card for diving in the 34th minute that came back to haunt Chicago later on, but it was another mishap that sent the game to a draw after Patrick Nyarko took down Alston in the box in the 30th minute.
Nguyen stepped to the spot a minute later and had better luck than Anangonó. Fire keeper Sean Johnson picked correctly and dove left, but Nguyen put some extra mustard on his try, sending a low rocket inside the right post to level it up at 1-1.
“It was a great fight from the guys,” Nguyen said. “Kevin (Alston) did a great job making that run down the line and drawing the foul. I couldn’t let him down. I was trying to be as calm as I could in taking it and luckily we were able to tie it up.”
Amarikwa received his second booking with 17 minutes to play after a tackle on Dorman, dragging his back foot and tripping up the New England midfielder.
“I can’t comment on the referee, but he’s wasn’t good,” Yallop said. “He missed some plays that were important in this match.”
Amarikwa will receive an automatic one-game suspension for his ejection, as will Alston for the Revolution.
“Clearly I don’t think it was a foul, but it’s not my decision to make so what can you do?” Amarikwa said.
Although Shuttleworth (5 saves) outdid Johnson (2 saves) statistically, the latter came up huge in the closing minutes with a pair of clutch stops to hold on for a draw.
New England played down two key players. Center back and regular captain Jose Goncalves, who couldn’t make it back in time from a right quad injury picked up last week against Houston, while playmaker Kelyn Rowe continued to struggle with ongoing hamstring problems, missing his fifth game of the young season.
The Revolution will host Sporting KC at 7:30 p.m. EST next Saturday, while winless Chicago has a bye week coming up before hosting unbeaten Real Salt Lake the following Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CST.
Here are video highlights of the match: