Fire 2, Revolution 1

Revolution close but don’t reach their goal

Cuauhtemoc Blanco scales the Revolution wall, scoring on a free kick in the second half of a SuperLiga semifinal match. Cuauhtemoc Blanco scales the Revolution wall, scoring on a free kick in the second half of a SuperLiga semifinal match. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / July 16, 2009
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FOXBOROUGH - A few more offensive chances was all Revolution coach Steve Nicol wanted to see out of his bunch last night.

Before last night’s SuperLiga semifinal against the Chicago Fire, the Revolution had not scored in back-to-back matches against MLS teams. Nicol’s challenge to his team was to make better decisions around the goal.

The result was a season-high 23 shots for the Revolution, but the ball seemed to go everywhere but across the goal line as the team’s bid to defend its 2008 SuperLiga title came to an end in a 2-1 loss at Gillette Stadium.

Two attempts skipped off the crossbar and another off a post, leaving New England short of a tying goal.

“Sometimes you’re just unlucky,’’ Revolution midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “I don’t know how many times we hit the frame, but it’s the most we have in the last three or four weeks. We created chances.’’

Luck is not something the Revolution have relied on this season as injuries have claimed a number of starters, leaving younger players to fill spots. At times the makeshift lineup is left vulnerable, as it was in the first half when Chicago forward Brian McBride was left alone in the 34th minute to send a pass from Cuauhtemoc Blanco whizzing past a diving Matt Reis for the 1-0 lead.

While Nicol said inexperience led to the breakdown, Larentowicz took the blame after the game, saying he “lost McBride.’’

The play may have stung for the blue shirts around McBride, but by the end of the half the Revolution had erased any ill feelings.

Revolution forward Edgaras Jankauskas missed an attempt earlier in the match that sailed over the goal, but he made good on a Chris Tierney pass that found the 6-foot-4-inch forward in the box. Jankauskas directed his shot toward the goal, and it deflected off Chicago’s John Thorrington and into the net to tie the match at 1-1 in the 44th minute.

Jankauskas pumped his fist as he sprinted up field, celebrating his first goal with the Revolution since he signed July 1. When striker Taylor Twellman was moved to the disabled list because of concussion symptoms, Jankauskas was brought in as a target forward. The 34-year-old owns an extensive résumé in European soccer, with stops at clubs like FC Porto in Portugal, Club Brugges in Belgium, and Real Soceidad in Spain.

“I think you’d have to be blind to not see the quality the guy’s got,’’ Nicol said. “He makes bad balls good balls, he holds the ball up well . . . once he gets his legs under him, I’m sure he’ll total it off with goals.’’

The Revolution were forced to increase their pressure in the second half once Chicago took advantage of a free kick.

Revolution defender Darrius Barnes was called for a foul against McBride in the 62d minute that set up a free kick about 25 yards out for the Fire. Blanco lifted the shot over the Revolution wall and straight to the back of the net to give the Fire the 2-1 lead.

A few substitutions after the 67th minute increased the Revolution’s chances but didn’t produce the results they wanted.

“They had some quality looks and we’ve been in that boat the last few weeks as well,’’ Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch said. “We created a lot of chances and then sometimes you don’t get any and sometimes you just get one, so we’ve been there and we know that feeling.

“But they created a lot of chances [last night].’’

The number of tickets sold for the AC Milan vs. Inter Milan exhibition at Gillette July 26 is approaching 40,000, according to Revolution officials . . . The team also sold more than 1,000 tickets in 24 hours for the LA Galaxy match Aug. 8 at Gillette. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, who has been on loan with AC Milan, rejoined the team this week.

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