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REVOLUTION 3, FIRE 1

Revolution wing it, win it

Fire battered by left-right flurries

Matt Reis couldn't rely on his posse on this play, the keeper rising to snare a cross headed for Chicago's Dasan Robinson. Matt Reis couldn't rely on his posse on this play, the keeper rising to snare a cross headed for Chicago's Dasan Robinson. (CHITOSE SUZUKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

FOXBOROUGH -- The Revolution were playing without Shalrie Joseph in central midfield yesterday. But they switched their attacking emphasis to the wings in taking a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire, extending their unbeaten streaks to five games overall and nine at home over two seasons.

The Revolution (3-1-2 ) lost command of the game after an early goal by Jeff Larentowicz and did not recover until after coach Steve Nicol added substitutions midway through the second half. Two minutes after Joe Franchino and Wells Thompson entered the match, the Revolution took a 2-1 lead on Steve Ralston's goal and clinched the result in the 81st minute on Thompson's first MLS score.

"We thought we needed to change the momentum," Nicol said of the replacements. "We didn't look like [we were] getting forward. This was our third game in eight days and we looked tired. We needed to get fresh legs on and get a spark. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, this time it did the trick."

Khano Smith's advances on the left side of midfield caused the Fire (3-1-1 ) to alter their scheme, Dasan Robinson switching sides to shadow Smith. The move stifled Smith for a while but, eventually, Smith resumed his raids on the sideline.

Chris Rolfe scored the tying goal following a corner kick and a poor clearance in the 45th minute, the shot skidding under Matt Reis's right arm. This was the first opponent goal off a corner since Jason Kreis converted the final goal in Real Salt Lake's 3-1 victory over the Revolution last July 14.

When the Revolution weren't looking to the left, they went to the right wing to Ralston, who tied the MLS record set by Chris Henderson by playing in his 317th game. Then, Ralston moved into the center, and Thompson, who came on for midfielder Andy Dorman, added a threat on the right.

The Revolution started the season with a 1-0 loss at Chicago, but have trailed for only two minutes (in the first half of a 2-2 tie at Columbus) since. The Revolution earned seven points in matches at FC Dallas (1-0), D.C. United (1-1), and against the Fire in the last eight days.

"This wasn't our best game but in the second half we sorted some things out," Ralston said. "Once we got the second goal they had to push forward and that opened things up. [Smith] is a handful, he was getting by guys and they had to change the way they were playing. At halftime [Nicol] told us to use our brains, to be mentally strong. If you think about it you are going to be tired. And, we got a spark off the bench."

Michael Parkhurst started in Joseph's spot in midfield, but returned to central defense for the final 24 minutes as Franchino (who came on for left back Avery John), Larentowicz, and Ralston manned the midfield. Joseph, who was red-carded against D.C. United, is eligible to return for the Revolution's visit to Los Angeles Saturday.

Larentowicz scored his second career goal off Ralston's corner kick in the 16th minute, flying feet first to meet the ball and send it past Matt Pickens. Larentowicz started the sequence that led to the corner, sending a through ball to Adam Cristman.

The Revolution failed to find leading scorers Taylor Twellman and Dorman for most of the game, though they squandered a chance on a breakout as Rolfe recovered to make a sliding tackle on Twellman in the 32d minute.

Parkhurst returned to central defense in the 66th minute and the Revolution scored two minutes later. Larentowicz found Smith on the left, and Smith curled a cross for Ralston at the back post for a 2-1 lead. On the final goal, Twellman and Ralston combined before Cristman rolled the ball to Thompson on the right. Thompson cleverly slipped past a defender and waited for Pickens to commit before scoring his first goal.

"It was a fantastic finish," Nicol said of Thompson's goal. "He has fantastic feet, great pace, he's just inexperienced. It is going to take time for him to learn the game but he has all the tools, great pace, and he loves to go at people."

Which is just what Smith has been doing.

"It doesn't matter if Carl Lewis is out there, I am going to go at them," Smith said. "Whoever they put out there I am going to take them on."

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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