Revolution face a tough road test against Fire
The Revolution look to overcome a major road block when the club travels to face the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Although New England has put in terrific performances on its home turf, winning on the road has been a massive struggle. The Revolution are the only team in the Eastern Conference without a road victory this season, taking just three of a possible 30 points this season.
“Whenever you go on the road, the margins for error shrink,” said Revolution manager Jay 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.”
The task of winning away from home will be even tougher this weekend when New England faces the league’s best home team in Chicago. Unbeaten in its last 10 home games, taking 28 of 30 points, the Fire’s only blemish came in a 2-2 draw against Montreal on April 1. Chicago has kept a clean sheet in seven of those 10 matches at home.
As of late, the Revolution have gotten hot after a lengthy winless run. Last Saturday, New England’s offense stayed hot, beating Philadelphia, 3-0, to move into eighth place, six points out of a playoff spot. Kei Kamara bagged two goals and Juan Agudelo scored in his first game back after winning the Gold Cup with the United States.
While the Revolution have been on the upswing, the Fire have been spiraling. Chicago fell last Saturday to Sporting Kansas City, 3-2. Despite getting two goals past one of the league’s best goalkeepers in Tim Melia, Sporting’s offense overwhelmed the Fire, scoring three times over the first 51 minutes.
After taking three out of four matches in all competitions last season against Chicago, New England has lost both meetings this season. The first came on April 15 on the road.
An early red card cost New England dearly and Chicago cruised to a 3-0 win.
The latest meeting came at Gillette Stadium on June 17. Chicago handed New England its first home loss of the season, a 2-1 setback. The Fire went ahead, 2-0, just past the hour mark before defender Antonio Delamea scored his first MLS goal to cut the deficit to one. But the equalizer never came for New England.
New England will look to remain sharp defensively after keeping a clean sheet last weekend and will need to do so against Chicago striker Nemanja Nikolic, the league’s leading scorer.
Three of Nikolic’s 16 goals this season have come against the Revolution, including two in the first match at Chicago.
“They have maybe the best attacking line in the league,” said Delamea. “We know them. We already played two games.
“We know what to expect from them. Every player knows what he needs to do.”
Revolution vs. Fire thumbnails
■ When, where: Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.
■ TV, radio: CSN, WBZ-FM (98.5).
■ Formations: Revolution: 4-4-2 diamond; Chicago: 4-3-3.
■ Goalkeepers: Revolution — Cody Cropper; Chicago — Matt Lampson.
■ Coaches: Revolution — Jay Heaps; Chicago — Veljko Paunovic.
■ Referee: Silviu Petrescu
■ Out: Revolution — none; Chicago — GK Jorge Bava (elbow), D Brandon Vincent (quadricep), M John Goossens (ankle).
■ Miscellany: New England has not won in Chicago since March 9, 2013 (1-0) . . . Chicago is 0-2-1 in its last three games, matching its longest winless run of the season . . . Chicago is 9-0-1 at home this season, the best home record in MLS.