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Fire blaze past Revolution into conference finals

Nov 7, 2008 - 5:24 AM BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois (Ticker) -- It took four years, but the Chicago Fire finally solved the New England Revolution.

Chris Rolfe, Wilman Conde and Gonzalo Segares all scored as the Fire advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-0 victory over the Revolution on Thursday.

MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Jon Busch stopped four shots for Chicago, which was ousted from the postseason each of the last three years by New England - including twice in the conference championship.

"It's a big relief to win this series because they have knocked us out of the playoff so often," Chicago coach Denis Hamlett said. "New England has shown a consistency of being a good team, but tonight, our guys showed the will to move on."

Following a scoreless draw at New England in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal series, the two teams played pretty evenly for the opening 45 minutes.

The Fire were able to break through in the second minute of injury time, however, as Rolfe knocked home the rebound after Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis made a diving save on Cuauhtemoc Blanco's blast from the left side of the 18-yard box.

"I saw Cuauhtemoc (Blanco) sizing up a shot and thought it may have a chance to be deflected off Matt (Reis)," Rolfe said. "The ball came right to me and I was able to score. That goal meant a lot to us because we knew they wanted to keep the game at 0-0. When we attack and we are getting chances, we are a hard team to beat."

New England, which was playing without injured captain Steve Ralston (broken leg) and forward Taylor Twellman (concussion-like symptoms), seemed to be stunned by the goal as it started the second half slowly.

"The injuries were huge," Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. "Losing Steve Ralston and Tyler Twellman, it's been a struggle, it's been really tough. Plus, Sharlie (Joseph) was off tonight. But you try to stand up and get it done, but it just didn't work out today."

Chicago took advantage in the 49th minute as Justin Mapp sent a free kick from the left wing into the goal mouth where Conde rose and headed the ball into the lower left corner, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

"It's something we work on in practice all week," Mapp said. "I was just trying to put it in the box and give our guys a chance. Wilman did a great job beating his defenders."

New England's best chance to cut into the deficit came in the 58th minute when Kenny Mansally blasted a left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area, but Busch made a sprawling one-handed save to deflect the ball just wide of the left post.

Segares put the finishing touches on the contest, easily knocking home a cross from Rolfe at the top of the six-yard box to give the Fire a 3-0 bulge in the 74th minute.

The Fire, who outshot the Revolution, 14-8, will await the winner of the top-seeded Columbus Crew and the Kansas City Wizards, who will play the second leg of their conference semifinal series on Saturday. The first leg finished in a 1-1 draw.

"We will work a little tomorrow and then take Saturday off and get a chance to see who we will be playing," Hamlett said. "We will also take this opportunity to get some rest."








  • EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL
    MLS NEW ENGLAND 0
    CHICAGO 3 FINAL

    Nov 6 10:42 PM
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    #1 Cards Fan Added 5 roots

    Revolution 0, Fire 3  2nd - 83'Nov 6 10:34 PM


  • MLS UPDATE
    NEW ENGLAND 0
    CHICAGO 3
    CHICAGO GOAL: Gonzalo Segares in the 74th minute

    Revolution 0, Fire 3  2nd - 74'Nov 6 10:24 PM


  • MLS UPDATE
    NEW ENGLAND 0
    CHICAGO 2
    CHICAGO GOAL: Wilman Conde in the 49th minute

    Revolution 0, Fire 2  2nd - 49'Nov 6 10:00 PM


  • EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL
    MLS NEW ENGLAND 0
    CHICAGO 1 HALFTIME

    Nov 6 9:39 PM


  • MLS UPDATE
    NEW ENGLAND 0
    CHICAGO 1
    CHICAGO GOAL: Chris Rolfe in the 44th minute

    Revolution 0, Fire 1  1st - 44'Nov 6 9:39 PM
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    six4three Added 5 roots

    Revolution vs. FireNov 6 1:51 PM