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Chicago too hot for depleted Revs
by Ridge Mahoney, November 7th, 2008 7AM

TAGS:  mls


[MLS PLAYOFFS] Determination and pluck aren't enough against a superior opponent, and the young, determined but undermanned Revs couldn't keep pace Thursday night at Toyota Park in a rousing 3-0 Fire victory that earned Chicago a spot in the semifinals.

Chris Rolfe, Wilman Conde and Gonzalo Segares scored as Chicago notched its goals at critical times and by various methods to earn a spot in the Eastern Conference final against either the Wizards or Crew, which play Saturday in Columbus.

The injury absences of Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston, and the suspension of Khano Smith left the Revs woefully short of playoff experience, and the gap widened late in the first half when a hard foul by John Thorrington knocked midfielder Jeff Larentowicz out of the game with an ankle injury. Larentowicz had driven a free kick into the defensive wall early in the match. His departure deprived the Revs of a vital weapon on set plays and middle-distance shots as well as a rugged tackler and reliable passer.

Midfield partner Shalrie Joseph, hobbled coming into the match by a sprained knee but determined to go nonetheless, shouldered an even greater burden as the Revs labored to contain Chicago's potent attack and still generate chances. Coach Steve Nicol had started with Amaechi Igwe at left back rather than rookie Chris Tierney (injured in practice on Tuesday) or Costa Rican international Gabriel Badilla, who had missed the first leg because of suspension. Also unavailable for the Revs was injured attacker Adam Cristman.

Rookie Pat Phelan replaced Larentowicz, and had New England been able to go into the locker room at 0-0 it could have defused some of the raucous, energized environment generated by 17,312 fans who sensed from the kickoff that a run of three straight postseason eliminations at the hands of the Revs might be about to end.

Instead of scraping out a halftime deadlock, the Revs went down a goal when Matt Reis gave up a rebound on a Cuauhtemoc Blanco shot in first-half stoppage time, and Rolfe pounced to score the third playoff goal of his career.

Chicago smote New England a second devastating blow four minutes into the second half on a set play. Justin Mapp's swerving free kick from the left flank found defender Wilman Conde knifing between defenders and his powerful header stung the net behind Reis.

Not much had gone right for the Revs up to this point and their luck didn't change despite a brief flurry from their two young Gambian internationals. Sainey Nyassi set up Kenny Mansally for a skidding shot that Fire keeper Jon Busch just got enough of his right glove on to turn past the post, and minutes later Nyassi threatened again but instead of shooting he played the ball to Mansally, who lost the ball in a tackle.

Rolfe burst free down the right flank in the 74th minute and squared a ball that Segares, completely unmarked, couldn't fail to tap into the empty net.

One of the three Revs defenders in the vicinity but unable to stop the goal, Chris Albright, took out his frustration nine minutes later with a nasty kick at Blanco and received his second yellow card.

A miserable night, and a disappointing season, ended for the Revs in the 85th minute when an offside call annulled a Joseph goal.


GAME SUMMARY, Quarterfinal, second leg
Nov. 6 in Bridgeview, Ill.

Chicago 3 New England 0. (Chicago wins, 3-0, on aggregate)
Goals: Rolfe 47+, Conde (Mapp) 49, Segares (Rolfe) 74.
Chicago - Busch, Segares, Conde, Soumare, Prideaux, Mapp (Wollard, 77), Thorrington, Pause, Rolfe (King, 86), Blanco, McBride.
New England - Reis, Igwe (Badilla, 73), Parkhurst, Heaps, Albright, Castro, Joseph, Larentowicz (Phelan, 39), Nyassi, Dube (Thompson, 81), Mansally.
Yellow cards: Chicago -- Thorrington 36, Busch 62; New England -- Albright 7, Igwe 47, Joseph 53, Albright 83.
Red card: New England -- Albright 83.
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Att.: 17,312


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