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Know Thy Enemy: Revolution vs The We Almost Started The Fire Edition

A lot of things have changed since the opening 15 minutes of the 2021 campaign in Soldier Field, with the Revs looking to secure a playoff spot in September and the Fire...celebrating their first road win in a year and a half.

MLS: New England Revolution at Chicago Fire Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

I can’t believe the New England Revolution haven’t played the Chicago Fire since opening day, what an odd scheduling quirk to play them twice in the final eight games of the season.

But it does give us a chance to look back at that fateful opening day, which 15 minutes in had the Fire as the clear MLS Cup favorites and Revs fans changing the channel. Okay, neither of those are probably true but the Revs did come back and secure a 2-2 draw and maybe could’ve won that game. We’re probably not adding that match to the solid highlight reel of rivalry games at Soldier Field but it is nice to remember the early days of MLS.

The grainy VHS overlay is really unnecessary Willy, I know standard analog definition when I see it.

While the Revs have certainly improved their form since opening day, the Fire have struggled mightily. While we might joke that the fire peaked in 2021 during that opening salvo of goals against the Revs, they actually have a legitimately solid group of results this year. A 10-game run of 4W-2L-4D from the end of June to mid-August that included wins over Orlando, RBNY, Columbus and Atlanta which is certainly respectable.

The issue is, outside of that summer run, the Fire are ice cold with just two other wins and the aforementioned opening draw against New England for the entire year. While the Fire are languishing below the playoff line, the Revs apparently have an outside chance at clinching a playoff berth tonight with some help:

Obviously clinching a playoff spot with 7 games to play is neat...but the Revs know the real magic number they’re following is for the Supporter’s Shield and no, don’t ask me to calculate it, I was told there would be no math today and it was my first night back and work and I am tired.

Someone who’s probably not calculating playoff magic numbers is our good friend Patrick McCraney of Hot Time in Old Town who was able to give us a moment of his time to recap the misery that is the 2021 Fire season as well as highlight anything remotely positive which does include our old friend, Bobby Shuttleworth, Professional Gentleman of Leisure.

Be sure to check out HTIOT for all of their Fire-Revs coverage, the match kicks off at 8pm Eastern from Soldier Field on TV38, MyRI TV and MLS Live on ESPN+.

1. Chicago has two wins over RBNY in the last couple of months, and just one other win (against the Crew) in that span. What worked against the Energy Drinks and what hasn’t in the brutal road trip stretch of shutouts against SKC, DC, and Montreal?

1.) The Fire are really, really bad on the road. They lost five of six on the recent road trip, and that one win over the Red Bulls was the team’s first win on the road since October 2019—in Bastian Schweinsteiger’s final career game in Orlando. Really.

They play better at home, but I doubt it’ll be good enough to beat the Revs. When the Fire do win, it’s generally through a combination of: 1.) no defensive mistakes—have fun with that with the Revs, and 2.) Goals from midfield.

2. Who is one player that has played well throughout the year and likewise someone who has been disappointing? Also, how’s our old friend Bobby Shuttleworth doing this year?

2.) Luka Stojanovic has been pretty good this season (you’ll remember him from the first 15 minutes of the season opener when it looked like we were winning MLS Cup), as have Mauricio Pineda and Jonathan Bornstein. The Fire also just signed a defensive midfielder named Federico Navarro, and the early returns are pretty good. The guy covers a ton of ground. Bobby Shuttleworth has been great, but because the Fire are essentially out of the playoffs, I would expect to see 17-year-old Gabriel Slonina in goal once again. He’s fun.

Who’s been disappointing? Our three designated players. Ignacio Aliseda had one great game but has either been injured of quiet in all the rest, Robert Berić has three goals all season (really), and Gastón Giménez has not lived up to his DP contract.

3. This might sound like a mean question - but did the 2021 Chicago Fire season peak when they went up 2-0 against the Revs in Week 1? If yes, what are positives from the year as a team and if no, what was the high water mark for the Fire in 2021?

3.) Those first 15 minutes were magical! To be honest, though, there was a stretch from early July through mid-August where the Fire started to come together as a group. They looked good, albeit for a short period of time. A few individual players have been bright spots for the team, but overall it’s a mess.

Lineup/Injuries/Predictions/Etc.

Lineup: Slonina - Teran, Pineda, Bornstein - Sekulic, M Navarro, F Navarro, Herbers, Medran, Stojanovic - Offor

Prediction: 3-1 Revs.