New England Revolution's playoff hopes effectively end with loss to Chicago
The New England Revolution's flickering postseason hopes were effectively extinguished following a 2-1 defeat to the last-place Chicago Fire on Sunday at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.
After surrendering a goal to Michael de Leeuw in the ninth minute, the Revolution punched back in the 43rd minute with a Diego Fagundez strike.
Chicago went down a man after Luis Solignac was sent off for kicking down London Woodberry 30 yards away from the ball in the 53rd minute.
New England nearly went ahead in the 62nd minute when Juan Agudelo steered a Lee Nguyen pass off the crossbar.
The Revolution were unable to capitalize on the man-advantage before Brad Knighton was red carded for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity on David Accam in the 73rd minute.
Not long after his encounter with Knighton, Accam delivered the dagger when he beat the Revolution's high line on a Jonathan Campbell long ball and buried it in the 80th minute to score the winner.
While the Revolution are still mathematically alive in the hunt for a playoff berth, the only way they can clinch is if they beat Montreal by at least 13 goals in next weekend's season finale and sixth-place Philadelphia -- which currently holds the overwhelming advantage on the goal-differential tiebreaker -- loses, of course.
What it means: The Revolution will most likely miss the postseason for the first time since 2012 thanks to a defense that's betrayed them far too often in 2016. So it wasn't surprising to see mental gaffes doom them in Sunday's must-win game. De Leeuw's goal looked much too easy, as the Fire midfielder exploited an obvious gap in the back line. The Fire, who entered the match in last place, looked like world-beaters against the Revolution on a number of occasions, one of which saw Accam beat the squad's high line and score on a simple finish. For all the promise shown by the team's attack in recent weeks, the Revolution failed to address their defensive shortcomings, and on Sunday, they finally paid the price for it.
Stat of the match: Brad Knighton's red card was his first in over six years. His last early exit came as member of the Philadelphia Union in an Aug. 8, 2010, match vs. FC Dallas, a game in which he was sent off in the 22nd minute.
Windy City woes continue: Despite beating the Fire on three prior occasions this year -- all of which were at Gillette Stadium -- the Revolution saw their dry spell in Chi-town continue with Sunday's loss. New England's last win at Chicago came in the 2013 season opener, a game in which the Revolution needed a second-half Jerry Bengtson goal to edge the Fire 1-0.
Goncalves returns: After missing the team's past two matches due to an ankle injury, center back Jose Goncalves rejoined the starting corps against Chicago. Goncalves' performance in his last appearance -- a 3-1 win over Montreal on Sept. 17 -- earned him MLSSoccer.com Team of the Week honors.
Tierney among the subs: Starting left back Chris Tierney was listed among the substitutes for Sunday's match, as versatile reserve Darrius Barnes got the nod on the left side of the defense. Tierney, who leads all MLS defenders in chances created (48), was not listed on the team's injury report ahead of the game.
Season finale awaits: The Revolution will draw the curtains on 2016 in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Montreal Impact at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. ET. Interestingly, the last time the Revolution missed out on the postseason, they secured a season-ending win over the Impact back in 2012.