By: Dan Shulman
The last two weekends have seen the Revolution end their winning streak and miss out on two chances to clinch a playoff berth. On Saturday, the Revolution will visit Eastern Conference rival Chicago for a chance to extinguish the Fire and earn their third consecutive trip to the MLS postseason.
The Revolution, who sit in a tie for second place in the East, only 1 point out of the top spot, are coming off a disappointing 1-1 home draw last Saturday against the Philadelphia Union. Despite outshooting their opponents, 11-2, the Revolution were frustrated by Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, who set a franchise record with 10 saves.
The Revolution and Fire have met twice this season, with New England holding a 1-0-1 advantage. The Revolution won, 2-0, at home in June before a controversial 2-2 draw on the road in late July (the Fire tied the game on a penalty call that was disputed by New England).
New England is 6-3-2 against the Fire since Jay Heaps took over as coach in 2012.
The Fire have been eliminated from playoff contention following a winless September, but Revolution midfielder Diego Fagundez said they are “still playing for pride. They want to show what kind of team they are. We just have to be ready for that.”
Chicago has undergone a coaching change. Frank Yallop was fired two weeks ago, replaced on an interim basis by Brian Bliss.
“We’re looking at film differently with Bliss there now,” said Heaps. “There’s a little different feel in how they’re set up, but it’s not a total, drastic change. It’s very hard to do that in a short period of time.”
Revolution designated player Jermaine Jones was able to play the full 90 minutes for the second straight weekend against the Union. Jones had hernia surgery in the spring and returned to the field in early August.
“In terms of what Jermaine brought from a physical standpoint, what he brought from a ball-winning standpoint, what he brought from a presence standpoint, from a leadership standpoint — that was well beyond 100 percent,” said Heaps. “I thought he was awesome.”
New England could clinch a playoff berth before the final whistle Saturday — with an Orlando City loss or tie against Montreal; that game begins an hour before the Revolution and Fire kick off at 8:30 p.m.
“We can still clinch a playoff spot, so they’re going to make it as hard as possible to get there,” said Fagundez. “We just have to do everything we can to get those 3 points.”
■ When, where: Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.
■ TV, radio: CSN, WBZ-FM (98.5)
■ Records: Revolution, 13-10-8 (47 points); Chicago, 7-18-6 (27 points)
■ Coaches: Revolution, Jay Heaps; Chicago, Brian Bliss
■ Goalkeepers: Revolution, Bobby Shuttleworth; Chicago, Jon Busch
■ Formations: Revolution, 4-2-3-1; Chicago, 4-4-2-1
■ Referee: Kevin Stott
■ Out: Revolution — D Darrius Barnes (knee); Chicago — D Adailton (core muscle), D Eric Gehrig (foot), G Sean Johnson (shoulder), D Ty Harden (adductor).
■ Miscellany: Chicago matched its club record with a fifth consecutive loss in a 3-2 defeat by Toronto FC . . . The Revolution are 5-12-8 on the road against Chicago.