Preview: Focus shifts back to league play as Revs kick off two-game road trip in Chicago

Lemieux Previeux - Claude Dielna

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The focus returns to league play this weekend as the New England Revolution embark upon a two-game road trip through Chicago and San Jose, beginning on Saturday night when the Revs will visit the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.

Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET with Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner on the call for NBC Sports Boston and 98.5 The Sports Hub. Portuguese radio listeners can hear Luis Lombardi Jr. and Raphael Fraga call the action on 1260 AM Nossa Radio USA.

Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on NBC Sports Boston, while host Matt McCarthy and former Revolution midfielder Clyde Simms will take calls for 30 minutes postgame on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Those who’d like to enjoy the match alongside fellow Revolution fans can head to the club’s official watch party at Snookers in Providence, R.I. (53 Ashburton Street, Providence, RI 02904).

Current Form: Revs carrying three-game unbeaten run in league play; Fire finding form

Head coach Brad Friedel made 10 changes to the Revolution lineup for their U.S. Open Cup match against Louisville City FC on Tuesday night – and said he would’ve made 11 if he’d had the bodies – but a surprising lack of energy doomed the Revs against last year’s USL champs as they were eliminated with a 3-2 loss.

While that result halted the Revs’ run in the Open Cup they’ll need to ensure that it doesn’t halt their momentum in league play, as they’ll hit the road carrying a three-game unbeaten run (1-0-2) following last weekend’s win over the New York Red Bulls.

“We’ve been getting some good results of late, and now going on the road is going to be another challenge for us,” said Teal Bunbury, who has scored all eight of his goals this season in the last 11 games. “We’re confident right now. I think we have the ability to go to Chicago and win, and that’s going to be our mindset.”

Bunbury was one of several regular starters who didn’t make the midweek trip to Louisville – along with Luis Caicedo, Antonio Delamea, Diego Fagundez and Matt Turner – giving that group an opportunity to recharge after playing every minute of last week’s three-game grind.

“It’s so important,” Bunbury said of getting rest when needed. “I’ve been in this league a long time and it’s a lot about having fresh legs. It’s a lot about having depth on your team, especially come summer time when a lot of these games kind of bunch up together.”

Chicago are also dealing with a bit of fixture congestion as they – like the Revs – will be playing their fifth game in 15 days on Saturday night. The Fire went 120 minutes on Wednesday night against Columbus Crew SC, advancing to the Open Cup Round of 16 in a penalty shootout, and it marked their third win in their last four games in all competitions.

That signifies a bit of a turnaround for the Fire, who’ve lost a league-high four home games this season.

“They have a couple very good players, as everyone knows,” said Friedel. “I think it’s important that we take control of the transitions in the game. I think that’ll be very important. I think we need to try to possess the ball. I think we can frustrate them a little bit if we do so in the areas.”

Past Meetings: Chicago winners of four straight in the regular-season series

New England won three straight meetings with Chicago between May and August 2016 – including a U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Gillette Stadium – but the Fire have since turned the tables, winning four straight against the Revs, including a three-game sweep last season.

The history between these sides dates back much farther than 2016, however, as they met in a remarkable eight playoff series in a 10-year span between 2000 and 2009.

Injury Report: Agudelo returns from hamstring injury with two substitute appearances

The balky hamstring that sidelined Juan Agudelo for four games in May has fully healed, and the dynamic striker has returned to the fold with a pair of substitute appearances in last weekend’s league win over New York and Tuesday night’s Open Cup match in Louisville.

Agudelo totaled 42 minutes in those two appearances, and while that’s a relatively small sample size, he said he’s felt healthy and confident upon his return to the field.

“It felt great,” Agudelo said of his return. “I want to thank everyone that worked with me to try to come back. I’m happy that I survived the game, and I’ll have a lot more confidence onto the next game.”

Final Thoughts: Revs looking for “a professional response” in Chicago

“I think you look for a professional response,” Kelyn Rowe said after the disappointment of Tuesday night. “We’ve said it all year – we can’t lose two in a row, and that includes Open Cup. It was not a good result. Obviously we didn’t go in there to tie or lose, so it’s tough on us.

“We made a midweek [trip] that we needed to win, and now we have to travel again on a Saturday, and again on a Wednesday. We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole in that sense, but we’ve got to be pros and come out and win a game.”