A.J. Soares vs. Chicago Fire

Fire, Toyota Park present stern challenges this weekend

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution will be looking to snap a pair of six-game winless runs on Saturday night when the club visits the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.

As fate would have it, the Revolution’s overall regular-season record in Bridgeview (0-5-1) mirrors the club’s record in the past six MLS games, as the Revs have historically struggled to pick up results at the venue opened in 2006. Of course, the issue hasn’t been exclusive to the Revs: Chicago holds an impressive 7-2-2 record at home this season.

“On the road, Chicago is never easy,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “But at the same time, we don’t have the luxury of taking any team lightly now. Every game right now is a critical point to our season and more so because we’re in a little bit of a rut.”

In last year’s visit to Toyota Park the Revs employed a high defensive line and were subsequently burned by Chicago’s speedy duo of Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko to the tune of three goals in the opening 30 minutes. Ryan Guy scored a pair of stoppage-time goals to give the Revs a late lifeline, but it wasn’t enough as they suffered a 3-2 loss.

This weekend the Revs will hope to limit Chicago’s speed advantage by applying pressure at the proper times and forcing the Fire into negative passes or quicker decisions, while Chris Tierney believes the Revolution’s possession-based approach is now more suited to Toyota Park’s expansive dimensions.

“The good news is it’s a big field and a great surface,” said Tierney. “We’ll be able to play the kind of game we want to play. We can get the ball down, pass and work hard.”

Tierney’s final point – working hard – might be the most important factor as the Revs search for their first win since July 8 and their first-ever league win at Toyota Park.

“It’s always tough and we’ve had some classic games against Chicago,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis. “All of our games now for the most part are against Eastern Conference opponents and most of them are above us. It’s important to really try to scratch and claw and do whatever we can to get a result.”