FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The only Major League Soccer game scheduled for this weekend takes place at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, June 2, when the New England Revolution hosts the Chicago Fire.
Kickoff between the Revs (4-7-1, 13 pts.) and Fire (5-4-3, 18 pts.) is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game will televised live in high definition on Comcast SportsNet New England, while 98.5 The Sports Hub will have the radio call.
Current Form: Both sides looking to bounce back after midweek Open Cup exits
The Revs and Fire were two of eight MLS teams eliminated by lower-league opposition in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this week.
It was the fashion of New England’s loss which was most stunning as the Revs built a 3-0 lead in the first period of extra time only to concede three times in the final nine minutes as the Harrisburg City Islanders forced the match to penalties. Kelyn Rowe and Benny Feilhaber – both of whom scored during extra time – missed their shootout attempts as the City Islanders booked a place in the Open Cup’s fourth round.
“I want the players to learn from it, but I want them to move on quickly,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps, whose side suffered a 3-2 loss to D.C. United in its last league action. “They have and we’ve already started thinking about the next game.”
Chicago suffered a similar fate in its third-round matchup with the Michigan Bucks (PDL), falling by a score of 3-2 in extra time at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich. The result continued a recent string of tightly contested games for the Fire, which has seen 10 straight matches in all competitions decided by a single goal or end as draws. In a bizarre trend, six of Chicago’s last seven league matches have finished with a final score line of 2-1; the Fire has won three and lost three of those contests.
Past Meetings: Revs aiming to snap long winless streak against the rival Fire
It’s been more than five years since the Revs tasted victory over the Fire in a regular-season match, going winless (0-7-3) in 10 meetings since a 3-1 win at Gillette Stadium on May 6, 2007.
New England does have a pair of victories over Chicago outside regular-season action in recent years having triumphed in SuperLiga (1-0 on July 17, 2010) and the MLS Cup Playoffs (2-1 on Nov. 1, 2009), but the Fire still had the last laugh, eliminating the Revs from the postseason in both 2008 and 2009.
Injury Report: Guy joins Simms on the sidelines for NE; Fire’s Pappa on international duty
Clyde Simms will miss his third straight game for New England as the influential central midfielder continues to recover from left ankle tendonitis. Ryan Guy filled in for Simms in a defensive midfield role the past two matches, but Guy re-aggravated a lingering right calf injury against D.C. United and that ailment will sideline him for Saturday night’s meeting with the Fire.
“I think he’s down,” Heaps said of Guy’s attitude after the calf complaint cropped up again. “We’ve got to take care of him. He’ll be out, for sure. We’ve got to make sure that we get him back because he’s a versatile player. It’s not just the center of midfield; it’s all over the midfield and even up top. Ryan is the utility man and when your utility guy goes down, you start really asking players to play out of their comfort zone.”
Chicago’s biggest absence has nothing to do with injury, but rather international duty. Midfielder Marco Pappa – second on the Fire in goals (3) and tied for the team lead in assists (3) – will miss Saturday’s game while with the Guatemala National Team.
Also missing for Chicago are central defenders Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair) and Arne Friedrich (R hamstring strain), although forward Chris Rolfe is expected to be available for the first time since re-signing with the Fire back in mid-April. Rolfe has yet to appear in his second stint with Chicago after spraining his left ankle during his second training session with the club.
Key Player: Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber
With both Simms and Guy ruled out against Chicago, the Revs will have to find a new central midfield partner for captain Shalrie Joseph. Upon Guy’s early departure from last weekend’s game against D.C., Feilhaber slotted into the vacant central role and responded by setting up New England’s first goal when the rebound of his long-range drive was buried by Saer Sène.
Feilhaber played the full 90 minutes at RFK Stadium and went 41 more three nights later at Skyline Sports Complex, but he could play a pivotal role in controlling the middle of the park should he get the nod once again on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
Final Thoughts: Victory crucial ahead of next weekend’s bye
“You always want to get a good result going into a break,” said left back Chris Tierney. “I don’t think anyone wants a weekend off coming off a loss. If we can get a win and start building momentum here, we’ve got another one at home in two weeks time, so the more wins we can string together, the better the team will play and the better we’ll do.”