for this game

Revolution hand Fire first loss of the season

May 7, 2007 - 12:54 AM FOXBORO, Massachusetts (Ticker) -- The Chicago Fire are no longer among the ranks of the unbeaten.

Steve Ralston scored the go-ahead goal and assisted on two tallies as the New England Revolution avenged their only loss of the season with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire.

It marked the first loss of the season for Chicago (3-1-1), which had gone 2-0-1 since opening the season with a 1-0 victory over the Revolution.

"We weren't going to go undefeated, as much as we wanted to," Chicago coach Dave Sarachan said. "It's days where you feel you can come away with points and you don't it's frustrating. New England's a good side, we need to take this game and learn from it and move on."

New England (3-1-2) has not lost since the opener, going 3-0-2 and moving into a tie with the New York Red Bulls for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. At 3-0-2, New York is the only remaining team in the league without a loss.

"It's a big win for us against a conference rival and it was their first loss of the season," Ralston said. "It wasn't our best game. I think in the second half we sorted some things out and with the second goal, obviously the game changed."

Ralston's decisive goal, his first of the season, came in the 68th minute.

Khano Smith's crossing pass from the left side came to the front of the net, where Ralston had battled his way into position. He got his right foot on the the ball and sent it into the net past goalkeeper Matt Pickens, giving New England a 2-1 lead.

"I really didn't think the ball would get there," Ralston said. "It was a great ball by Khano and surprisingly it just got by everybody. I just got in front, stuck my foot out and, luckily, steered it into the goal."

Wells Thompson's first goal of the season in the 81st minute sealed the victory. Thompson scored from short range on the right side after receiving a a pass from Adam Cristman and dribbling past a defender.

Ralston was credited with his fifth assist of the season on Thomspon's goal. He also received an assist on the first goal of the game in the 16th minute when his cornerkick was converted by Jeff Larentowicz, who earned his first tally of the season.

"(Ralston is) a smart player and he's got a great soccer brain and he uses it," New England coach Steve Nicol said. "The brain is always quicker than the legs and he proves that."

With 112 assists, Ralston is tied with Preki for second all-time in the MLS. He needs just three more to pass former teammate Carlos Valderrama for the all-time lead.

"That's fine," Ralston said. "Obviously the most important thing is we got three points. The other stuff, I don't really care if I'm 'Man of the Match.' If I ever break the assist record, it's taken me about six years longer than Carlos so let's be honest here. I've been fortunate to play with some great forwards who have scored a lot of goals."

Both Ralston and Valderrama began playing for the MLS in its inaugural season - 1996. Valderrama retired from the league in 2002.

Ralston also has moved into a tie for MLS career appearances with 317. He will likely pass Chris Henderson for first on the list next weekend in Los Angeles.

Chicago knotted the game 1-1 late in the first half when Chris Rolfe rifled a shot through a crowd in front of the net. New England goalkeeper Matt Reis, who made six saves, was unable to cleanly corral the ball.

Rolfe has three goals this season for Chicago, which won both games here last season after enduring a six-game skid at Gillette Stadium.

"I think we beat ourselves tonight, frankly," Sarachan said. "We had a lot of time and space. It was frustrating giving up a corner but we get one back before the end of the half. I think we had a good start to the second half and I think we forced some things."

This was just the latest chapter in what has become one of the league's better rivalries.

Two teams have met in the playoffs four of the last five seasons. Last season, the Revolution topped Chicago in the Eastern Conference semifinals, marking the second consecutive season the Revolution knocked the Fire out of the playoffs.

"No question, there is a rivalry here," Sarachan added. "There's no doubt. They get up for us and we get up for them. There are days we can get them and they feel they can get us. Tonight, they finished a couple of their chances they got and that was the difference."

New England, which leads the all-time series with Chicago 13-11-6, extended its home unbeaten streak to nine games (7-0-2). The Revolution's last home loss was August 20 against Chicago.

  • MLS

    May 6 6:58 PM

    NEW ENGLAND GOAL: Wells Thompson in the 81st minute

    Fire vs. RevolutionMay 6 6:46 PM

    NEW ENGLAND GOAL: Steve Ralston in the 68th minute

    Fire vs. RevolutionMay 6 6:34 PM

    CHICAGO GOAL: Chris Rolfe in the 45th minute

    May 6 5:54 PM

    CHICAGO GOAL: Chris Rolfe in the 45th minute

    Fire vs. RevolutionMay 6 5:54 PM

    NEW ENGLAND GOAL: Jeff Larentowicz in the 16th minute

    Fire vs. RevolutionMay 6 5:24 PM