As the MLS season hits the midway point, the standings become a bit more relevant. Pressure heightens as teams look to grab points in order to get over the thin red line. The New England Revolution are currently prepping to play six games over the next three weeks, which could have a lofty barring on the team's push for their second consecutive playoff berth. Before they head on the road for fixtures against FC Dallas and the LA Galaxy, the Revs will welcome the Chicago Fire to Gillette Stadium.
The Revs will be looking for a victory on Saturday to help reverse recent results. Although they are presently third in the Eastern Conference, the team is on a four-game losing streak with two goals scored and nine goals allowed. A win at home would help boost the team's confidence heading into their busy summer schedule.
"I think it's important for us to get momentum again after not having a win in a couple of games," Andrew Farrell said. "I think it's really big for us, especially being at home. We've lost the last two, so we want to get back on that win streak at home."
The Fire will also be looking to secure points as they are positioned ninth in the standings and are winless in their last six outings (0-2-4). The team has an impressive attacking trio in reigning league MVP Mike Magee, Rookie of the Year candidate Harry Shipp and the resurgent Quincy Amarikwa. With ten ties on the year, the Revs know that the Fire are a team that will fight for a result.
"I think both teams are going to be scrappy," Andrew Farrell commented. "It's the time of the season where you're either going to make that push to get to the playoffs or you're going to fall back and be in the latter positions of the table. I think it's a big game for both of us and it should be really exciting."
While the Revs will regain the services of Andy Dorman, they will be without Lee Nguyen as the midfield maestro has been suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for "endangering the safety of an opponent" during the July 4th game against Real Salt Lake. Saturday will be only the second time that the Revolution have lined up this season without Nguyen. His other absence came in the season opener against the Houston Dynamo.
While the suspension became public on Friday, the team received the news earlier in the week, which allowed them to properly prepare. With guys like Kelyn Rowe, Daigo Kobayashi and Steve Neumann capable of playing in the middle, head coach Jay Heaps will have a decision to make.
"I think we have a couple options and as this week has gone we've prepared for that," Heaps said. "We've had guys step up and have opportunities."
The Revs know that the summer stretch will be important for them, but that doesn't mean that they are looking too far ahead. In fact, the team will continue to prepare the same way as it always has.
"We're one game at a time right now," Heaps explained. "When we prepare our best we focus on one game at a time."