MLS Regular Season | Match #27
New England Revolution at Chicago Fire FC
Wednesday, September 22 | 8 p.m. ET
Soldier Field | Chicago, Ill.
Watch: TV38, myRITV
Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub, SiriusXM FC Channel 157 (English), WBIX 1260 Nossa Radio (Portuguese)
Revolution Pregame Live (7:15 p.m. ET)
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New England Revolution
1st in Eastern Conference (17-4-5, 56 pts.)
Last Result | 1-1 draw vs. Columbus Crew
The Revs settled for a point in a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew this past Saturday night despite matching a club record with 33 shots, including 24 in the second half. Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa, and Tajon Buchanan all returned to the starting XI, and Buksa’s 11th goal of the season helped New England erase a 1-0 deficit as they came from behind for a second straight game.
Despite their frustrations with the result, the point earned on Saturday night extended the Revolution’s leads atop both the Eastern Conference standings (15 points) and Supporters’ Shield race (10 points), keeping them in prime position with eight games remaining in the regular season. Now they’ll return to the road – where they’re 7-3-3 on the season and 5-1-0 on their last six road trips – knowing that a victory against the Fire would see them become the first MLS team to officially clinch a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Chicago Fire FC
12th in Eastern Conference (6-14-5, 23 pts.)
Last Result | 2-0 loss at CF Montréal
Chicago closed out a stretch of six straight road games on Sunday afternoon in Montréal, suffering a 2-0 loss to finish that gauntlet with a record of 1-5-0. Last week included trips to Sporting Kansas City (Sept. 11), D.C. United (Sept. 15), and Montréal (Sept. 19), and all three matches resulted in shutout losses for the Fire. Scoring has been an issue for Chicago this season, as they’ve scored just once in their last five games and their 24 total goals are tied for fewest in MLS.
While the Fire have struggled on the road (1-10-1), they’ve been better at Wednesday night’s venue, Soldier Field, where they’ve gone 4-1-2 in their last seven home games and 5-4-4 overall. That home record includes a 2-2 draw with the Revolution in the season opener for both sides back on April 17.
Revolution forward Teal Bunbury
A midweek road trip during a four-games-in-12-days stretch likely means rotation, and that could present an opportunity for Teal Bunbury to return to the XI after playing eight minutes off the bench this past weekend. Bunbury has appeared in the Revolution’s last 17 matches since late June, including seven starts.
The veteran forward will be hungry for goals having last scored two months ago in the 5-0 win over Inter Miami, and Soldier Field has been kind to him in the past – Bunbury bagged a brace in the Revolution’s 2-1 win over the Fire at that venue last September.
Fire midfielder Luka Stojanović
Chicago’s attack has largely ebbed and flowed with Luka Stojanović this season, as the 27-year-old Serbian has been the Fire’s most dynamic weapon with seven goals and two assists. The central midfielder hasn’t been on the scoresheet for the past five games, but in mid-August had four goals and one assist in a three-game stretch.
Stojanović will be of particular interest to the Revolution, as he registered one goal and one assist in the Fire’s 2-2 draw with the Revs in the season opener on April 17.
Gustavo Bou returned from a two-game injury absence and Carles Gil went 90 minutes for the first time since late July as the Revs approached a full-strength group this past weekend against Columbus.
“We kind of eased him in some ways – 25 minutes, 45 minutes, 90 minutes,” Bruce Arena said of Gil’s progression since returning from a six-game absence. “He didn’t seem like he really tired. He played a pretty good game. I’m sure he’s going to feel it over the next couple days, but you know, he’s got to get on the field and play. In our sport, basically, the best way to get fit is play 90 minutes, so that mission’s accomplished.”
Some rotation is to be expected on Wednesday night as the Revs push through a stretch of four games in 12 days, but Arena said how much will be determined by how players come through training.
“We take everything one game at a time,” said Arena. “We see how players come out of games and then make decisions for the next game. The priority is to try to put a team on the field that can win a game. Each and every game, and likely during the year, we’ve rotated almost in every game, and that won’t change.”
Emmanuel Boateng missed last weekend’s draw with Columbus through injury, once again listed as questionable alongside Gil, Bou, Jon Bell, Edward Kizza, and Maciel.
Chicago lists three players as out for Wednesday night’s game: defender Francisco Calvo, midfielder Brian Gutiérrez, and goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm. Of that trio, Calvo has been the Fire’s most consistent contributor this season, making 16 starts with one goal and one assist.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
New England Revolution sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena
“It matters, but it can change on a weekly basis depending on players coming back that have been injured or the form of other players. It’s evolving and that’s probably why we’re able to rotate our team, as well. We won’t worry about what we think our best 11 is until we get into the playoffs.”
New England Revolution midfielder Tajon Buchanan
“We know what there is to play for this year. We're trying to win everything. But yeah, we've just got to keep getting the results that we should be getting. We're taking it game by game, like you said, and if we do that and keep putting in good performances, we're leading the league right now, so everything is in our hands. We’ve just got to stay focused, take it game by game, and hopefully we keep performing.”