The Revolution are looking to ignite a midseason winning streak when they host the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Over its last six matches across all competitions, New England has gone 4-1-1. But overall this season, the Revolution have had a mixed bag of results, going 5-5-5 in MLS play with a plus-5 goal differential.
Their worst defeat came at the hands of the Fire, a 3-0 loss on the road April 15. Je-Vaughn Watson was sent off midway through the first half, leading to a trio of goals by Chicago’s talented attack. Bastian Schweinsteiger got Chicago on the board before Nemanja Nikolic bagged two more goals.
Both the Revolution and Fire are coming off Wednesday night wins in US Open Cup matches over USL opponents. New England benefitted from an early Rochester red card and unleashed a quick barrage to beat the Rhinos, 3-0. New England will host the next game in the Round of 16 at Harvard against D.C. United June 28.
Chicago earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Saint Louis FC. Luis Solignac’s first-half goal held up for the Fire against a feisty Saint Louis team.
While the Revolution had a much-needed bye during last weekend’s international break, Chicago was in action, defeating Atlanta United, 2-0.
“Any time you have experienced players like Dax McCarty, Schweinsteiger, and Juninho, they’re going to find ways to win on the road,” said Revolution coach Jay Heaps. “It’s important for us to eliminate what they do well — at least make it difficult for them — and try to put the game on our terms.
Nikolic currently leads the league with 12 goals, having hit his stride in his first MLS season. He has earned respect across the league and will present a huge challenge for the Revolution backline.
“He’s a type of player like [Filippo] Inzaghi for AC Milan,” said Revolution defender Antonio Delamea. “He’s not much on the ball, but in the 18-yard box, he’s very dangerous.
“We need to close him down. If we stop him and Schweinsteiger, we have one foot on the win.”
Chicago’s defense has been stout of late, holding opponents scoreless in June. The run of success has coincided with a goalkeeping switch, as Matt Lampson took over for Jorge Bava. Lampson has gone 5-0-2 with four shutouts.Dan Shulman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeDanShulman