CHICAGO – Fresh off back-to-back wins at Gillette Stadium the New England Revolution will return to the road this weekend as they’ll visit the Chicago Fire on Saturday night at Toyota Park.
The Revs (7-9-5, 26 pts.) have jumped back into the mix in the Eastern Conference playoff race with those consecutive victories, while the Fire (11-5-5, 38 pts.) remain in second place in the overall MLS standings behind only high-flying Toronto FC.
Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night with Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner handling the English call on CSN New England and 98.5 The Sports Hub. Portuguese radio listeners can catch the action on WMVX 1570 AM Nossa Radio USA.
Revolution Postgame Live will begin immediately after the final whistle on CSN New England, while host Rob “Hardy” Poole and analyst Shalrie Joseph will take calls for 30 minutes postgame on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Current Form: Revs aim to “keep momentum going” after consecutive home wins
Kei Kamara (three goals, one assist), Teal Bunbury (two goals) and Lee Nguyen (one goal, two assists) inspired the Revs to a pair of critical victories the past two weekends at Gillette Stadium as the Revs outlasted the LA Galaxy, 4-3, before shutting out the Philadelphia Union, 3-0.
That pair of wins improved the Revolution’s home record to 7-2-2 on the season, but now their task is to figure out a way to translate that success to the road, where they’re a winless 0-7-3 in 10 tries.
According to head coach Jay Heaps, competing on the road starts with defensive principles.
“Whenever you go on the road, the margins for error shrink,” said Heaps. “We just have to lock in and have the principled defending be key, and I think offensively, we’ll get chances. We just have to make sure we don’t give anything away.”
While the Revs have won back-to-back games at home, Chicago have suffered back-to-back losses on the road, dropping five points back of Toronto FC at the top of the MLS standings.
All five of the Fire’s losses this season have been on the road – they’re an MLS-best 9-0-1 at home, including eight straight wins within the confines of Toyota Park – and they boast two of the league’s top three goal scorers in Nemanja Nikolic (16 goals) and David Accam (12 goals).
“They have a very strong attacking line and we have to really be switched on for 90 minutes and really be prepared for a 90-minute battle,” said goalkeeper Cody Cropper, who kept his fifth clean sheet of the season last weekend against Philadelphia. “It’s just going to be doing the simple things right.”
Past Meetings: Revs looking to avoid regular-season sweep against the Fire
Saturday night will be the third and final meeting between the Revs and Fire this regular season, and New England will be trying to avoid a sweep after dropping the first two meetings with Chicago.
An early red card to Je-Vaughn Watson doomed the Revs on their previous visit to Bridgeview this year as they suffered a 3-0 loss in April, while the Fire snapped the Revolution’s 11-game home unbeaten run when they handed New England a 2-1 loss at Gillette Stadium in June.
While this weekend’s game is vital to the Revs for a number of reasons, avoiding a first regular-season sweep against the Fire since 2010 is unquestionably on the players’ minds.
“It’s not going to be easy having to go to their home and get a result, but we don’t like when a team can take us three games in a season,” said Nguyen. “We’re going to have to come and show up this weekend.”
Injury Report: Kouassi back in the mix after missing win over Philadelphia
New England head to Chicago with a virtually first-choice squad, as only rookie center back Josh Smith is listed as questionable with a lower back injury.
Juan Agudelo and Watson both returned from Gold Cup duty to appear off the bench last weekend – Agudelo capping the scoring with his team-leading eighth goal of the season – while Xavier Kouassi returned to full training this week after missing the win over Philly.
Meanwhile the Revs continue to await the arrival of new center back signing Claude Dielna, who will officially join the club after receiving his P1-Visa and International Transfer Certificate.
Final Thoughts: Delamea says Revs “really look like a team” as they head to Chicago
“We just need to keep this momentum,” said Antonio Delamea. “I think we’re playing very good at the moment. We really look like a team. Maybe [the win over Philadelphia] was the first game where we all played for one another. We just need to keep this going.
“In Chicago, we are expecting a very, very hard game, so we’ll have to do our job in both ways – attacking and defending. For ourselves, this clean sheet (against Philadelphia) is very important. It’s very good for confidence.”