Much of the talk surrounding the New England Revolution over the last few weeks has been a myriad of tactical questions and theories as to is causing a six-game winless streak. However, there are immediately pertinent matters at hand.
The Chicago Fire, who underwent nearly a front-to-back rebuild during the offseason, will come to Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening. After struggling to form an identity and play cohesively, Frank Yallop's squad is now making some noise in the Eastern Conference.
In anticipation of their arrival, let's take a look at some areas that make the Fire a dangerous team and the Revs' challenge of getting three points all that more difficult.
1.) Shipping Up to Boston: Pardon the bad pun, I couldn't resist. In all seriousness, the Fire boast one of the more exciting young attackers in the league in Harrison Shipp. Unlike many who terrorize defenses with blazing speed or some other raw physical talent, Shipp relies on his brain and natural inclinations of the field.
Many media members are clamoring for him to get a call-up to the U.S. National Team some time in the near future. With plays like this, there calls may be answered soon.
The man can flat out ball. The above strike is a moment of brilliance, but he is the Fire's vital cog in midfield and attack. Possession, counter-attacks, and chances created all run through him.
Now, Revolution midfielders and defenders did a good job of containing the second-year player last season, but he still poses a great deal of danger. His deft runs between the lines, soft as a feather through balls, and nose for the net are all of the highest caliber.
2.) Run, David Run: Okay, you've caught me making another bud pun and it'll be the last one for this piece. As mentioned above, the Fire bought themselves some shiny new tools during the offseason, the least of which is Ghanian speedster David Accam. Good news, Revs fans. He won't be playing on Saturday.
If he were to be there, the Fire would have an explosive player at their disposal who can create havoc over the top and dart in from the outside. He's arguably the Fire's best one-on-one player and is also pretty darn smart with his runs, too.
That is an absolutely fantastic near post run between two center-backs that is then capped off with a delicate, yet potent, finish. Jay Heaps' team will sleep a little better at night knowing that Accam won't be around to make them look as silly as D.C. United's defense did there.
3.) You Picked Who? General sentiment about this past year's MLS SuperDraft was that it was top-heavy and then there was a gradual decline as picks got deeper. But when the Fire were on the clock with the seventh pick in the first round, Matt Polster's name was called. Practically nobody knew who the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville midfielder was.
They do now. He's considered to be a consensus Rookie of the Year pick and has been an efficient cog in the heart of Yallop's midfield. Much like Scott Caldwell does a lot of the little things right for the Revs, Polster does them for Chicago, albeit with more reckless abandon.
He's fouled opponents 26 times and received four yellow cards already. That's not quite Andy Dorman level, but the rookie is giving the wily veteran a run for his money.
If you want to read up more on Polster, check out this article Matt Doyle wrote for MLSsoccer.com.