(Feb 26, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Chicago Fire midfielder Dilly Duka (11) and New England Revolution midfielder Andy Dorman (12) battle for the ball during the first half at Kino Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports)
Kelyn Rowe’s stoppage time strike sealed a 1-0 win for the New England Revolution (2-1-3) over the Chicago Fire (6-1-0) in Wednesday’s Desert Diamond Cup clash at Kino Sports Complex.
Rowe, who came on as a 62nd minute substitute, unknotted a scoreless game when he converted a Diego Fagundez feed in the 90+1 minute to give the Fire their first taste of defeat during the preseason.
With the win, the Revolution, which finished third in the Desert Diamond Cup tournament, will either face the Colorado Rapids or Chivas USA in Saturday’s consolation match. The Fire, which claimed the top spot at Tucson, will play the Chivas Rayadas in the championship match on Saturday.
While Rowe’s heroics lifted the Revolution to victory, it was goalkeeper Brad Knighton who donned the cape countless times to keep an enterprising Fire side off the board.
Inside of three minutes, Dilly Duka set the tone for Chicago after he found a pair of opportunities in front of frame. He was thwarted on the first try by a Revolution defender before the subsequent effort veered wide of the far post.
Knighton, who entered the match in the midst of a fierce battle for top billing between the sticks, bolstered his argument in the 33rd minute when Duka played a keen ball into the area for Jeff Larentowicz. After eluding the nearest defender, Larentowicz flicked a quick shot toward the near post that was denied by Knighton.
The scoreboard remained unblemished at halftime, but the Fire made a number of changes at the start of the second stanza. Even so, the Windy City XI continued to threaten as Knighton and his backline were called upon to keep the Fire from breaking through.
Shortly after the hour mark, New England made its own slew of substitutions, including the insertion of former longtime midfielder/camp invitee Shalrie Joseph. The club record holder in games played (261) came on in the 61st minute, and went 14 minutes before fellow trialist Gorka Larrea re-entered the match in Joseph’s place.
However, the Fire had no trifles spoiling Joseph’s Revolution return. Less than a minute after he entered the match, Quincy Amerikwa blasted a long-distance rocket that would've tucked itself under the bar had Knighton not elevated at the right moment to deny it.
Rowe gave the Revolution offense some life in the 75th minute when he cut inside the box, and poked a shot toward the far post before Kyle Reynish reached over to push it wide.
Knighton thwarted two more chances from Amerikwa and Patrick Ianni in the dying moments, setting the stage for Rowe in stoppage time.
With all signs pointing to a scoreless draw, the Revolution nevertheless gave it one last go in stoppage time. Knighton punted it forward to Patrick Mullins, who quickly found Rowe going forward. The third-year midfielder sought out Fagundez, who played the give-and-go into the area, where Rowe buried it for the win.