Both the Chicago Fire and New England Revolution have begun to show signs of recovery after the two clubs combined to go winless in 17 league games in July and August. As the two Eastern Conference rivals prepare for Saturday night’s match at Gillette Stadium, neither can afford a halt in momentum.
“Any game in MLS is dangerous,” Revolution head coach Brad Friedel said. “The amount of teams that go on runs of wins and runs of losses is incredible to me. It’s something that we definitely want to rectify at this club, and have a much more consistent formula in winning games.”
After their summer slump, the Revolution (8-10-10, 34 points) are on a modest three-game unbeaten streak, highlighted by a 1-0 road win over New York City FC on Sept. 5. New England only allowed two goals over those three games, and the defending should only improve with the return of Michael Mancienne, who missed last Saturday’s game due to paternity leave.
Guillermo Hauche could also be available for the Revs, as Friedel was hopeful that the Argentinian striker’s signing paperwork could be completed in time to make his MLS debut on Saturday. Hauche signed with New England last week.
The Revolution sit five points behind Montreal for the final Eastern playoff spot, while the Fire face a possibly-insurmountable deficit of 12 points back with just six games remaining. Chicago (7-15-6, 27 points) realistically needs to win all six of those games and perhaps then still require some outside help if the club is to make a miraculous return to the postseason.
The Fire are coming into Foxborough on the heels of their biggest win of the season, a 4-0 rout of Orlando City last Sunday. The victory was Chicago’s first since June 30.
“Finally, after a long time, we played like before. Scored some goals, creating opportunities,” said forward Nemanja Nikolic, who scored twice in the game. “The mood is good, and most important, the players are focused and motivated to work.”
Chicago’s hope of a late run is complicated by a tough schedule that sees the Fire play four of their final six games away from home. The Fire have only a 2-8-3 road record this season.
Chicago and New England played to a 1-1 draw in their previous match this season, on June 9 at Toyota Park.
—Field Level Media