CHICAGO, Ill. – The New England Revolution returns to the road this weekend, visiting Toyota Park for a Saturday night showdown with the Eastern Conference rival Chicago Fire.
Kickoff between the Revs (6-12-5, 23 pts.) and Fire (11-7-5, 38 pts.) is set for 8:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet, while fans can catch the radio call on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Determined Revs looking to snap out of recent funk; Fire winners of two straight
The frustration in the Revolution’s locker room was evident following last weekend’s home loss to the Montreal Impact, a result which extended New England’s winless run to six games (0-5-1) and left the club 13 points adrift of the final playoff spot. But the Revs have turned their frustration into determination on the training field and they spent the week putting in the work and focusing their attention on Saturday’s meeting with the Fire.
“The only way to turn something like this around is to continue to come to work and work hard,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “It’s not for lack of effort. If we can be consistent in that and make some adjustments here and there, we move forward. That’s the key is to continue to move forward. Take a negative and turn it into a positive.”
Chicago – a winner in its past two matches – continues to climb the Eastern Conference standings and enters the weekend just three points back of the second-place New York Red Bulls and five points back of conference-leading Sporting Kansas City. The recent additions of Designated Players Sherjill MacDonald and Alvaro Fernandez, coupled with the return to form of Chris Rolfe, have the Fire clicking on all cylinders.
Past Meetings: Revs put an end to Fire hex in season’s first meeting
Goals from Benny Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe helped the Revs secure their first regular-season victory over the Fire since 2007 in a 2-0 win on June 2 at Gillette Stadium. The result snapped a 10-game winless run (0-7-3) in the regular-season series.
With one hex out of the way, the Revs will look to end another on Saturday night as they’re still searching for the first regular-season victory at Toyota Park. Triumph in the group stage of SuperLiga gave the Revs a taste of victory in Bridgeview back in 2010, but six league matches at the venue have resulted in five losses and one draw.
Injury Report: No major absences for New England; Chicago’s captain out for a month
For one of the first times in recent memory the Revs will enter the weekend with limited injury concerns. The trio of Blair Gavin (L hamstring tightness), Alec Purdie (L ankle sprain) and Bobby Shuttleworth (L knee sprain) will miss out on Saturday as they continue to recover from their respective ailments, but they’re only joined on the injury report by Darrius Barnes, who’s probable with a right ankle sprain.
Jerry Bengtson traveled to Miami for a midweek friendly with the Honduras National Team – scoring his country’s first goal in a 2-0 victory over Argentine club Boca Juniors – but the 25-year-old forward returned in time to train on Friday before joining his teammates for the trip to the Windy City.
Chicago was dealt a major blow this week with the news that captain Logan Pause will miss four to six weeks after suffering two broken ribs and a collapsed lung in a collision with Bakary Soumare during last weekend’s win over the Philadelphia Union. Fernandez will presumably slide from the wing into Pause’s place in central midfield, while the speedy Patrick Nyarko is the likeliest candidate to take over at right midfield.
Final Thoughts: Changes afoot as Revs look to alter their fortunes
“There’ll be some changes (in the lineup) for Saturday,” said Heaps. “If there’s a consistent behavior and there’s consistent mental mistakes, you’ve got to look in the mirror and we as a group have to assess them. We watch film and we break it down.
“Guys in the locker room want everyone to be accountable across the board. I want to hold guys accountable, they want to hold me accountable and they want to hold each other accountable. That’s important.”