The Chicago Fire didn’t encounter much trouble from the New England Revolution last season while sweeping their three encounters.
Chicago attempts to continue its success and post its fifth straight win against the Revolution when the teams meet Saturday at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
Trips to Chicago have never resulted in much delight for New England, which is 5-16-8 all-time when playing in the Windy City.
But the Revolution (6-4-4, 22 points) arrives with a three-game unbeaten stretch (1-0-2) that includes last Saturday’s solid 2-1 home win over the New York Red Bulls.
New England also has a red-hot forward in Teal Bunbury, who has a team-best eight goals, just one shy of his career best set with Sporting Kansas City in 2011.
“We’ve been getting some good results of late, and now going on the road is going to be another challenge for us,” Bunbury told reporters. “We’re confident right now. I think we have the ability to go to Chicago and win, and that’s going to be our mindset.”
The Fire (5-7-2, 17 points) have won two of their last three matches after recording a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes last Saturday.
Forward Nemanja Nikolic has a team-leading six goals with midfielder Aleksandar Katai and forward Alan Gordon adding four apiece.
Katai, a 27-year-old Serbian in his first season with Chicago, scored one of the team’s goals against San Jose. Gordon had the other.
“Katai, in my opinion, he’s been very, very good and he’s very dangerous,” Gordon said. “He adds a different dynamic to our offense.”
The Fire lost goalkeeper Patrick McLain (1.33 goals-against average) with a first-half hamstring injury so Richard Sanchez will be back in goal. McLain started the last three games after supplanting Sanchez (1.91) as the starter.
New England has received strong play in goal from Matt Turner, who is benefiting from the tutelage of coach Brad Friedel, the former national team goalkeeper who was selected for induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame last week.
The 23-year-old Turner has a 1.43 GAA and three shutouts.
Meanwhile, Friedel sees the opportunity for New England to end its recent woes against Chicago.
“They have a couple very good players, as everyone knows,” Friedel said. “I think it’s important that we take control of the transitions in the game. I think that’ll be very important. I think we need to try to possess the ball. I think we can frustrate them a little bit if we do so in the areas.”
—Field Level Media