Thursday, April 05, 2007

Revs-Fire Preview

Here we go again.

The New England Revolution and Chicago Fire have developed quite a heated rivalry. From rough on-field play to accusations of Fire coach Dave Sarachan successfully lobbying for Revolution players to be suspended on multiple occasions, the matchup had reached a boiling point heading into their final meeting last October. It ended with the Revolution ending the Chicago side's season for the third consecutive year at Gillette Stadium. Needless to say, with the lineups virtually unchanged from that encounter, the Fire are looking for a little payback.

The Revs come into the game with several players questionable to make the lineup. Slight knocks to Shalrie Joseph, Khano Smith, along with slightly more serious injuries to Micheal Parkhurst, Daniel Hernandez, and Pat Noonan makes predicting the starting XI a little less cut and dry than it ought to be.

The Chicago Fire come into the season on the back of their signing of Blanco. However, he won't be able to play for the club in the first two of three games versus the Revs. Even though they lost two forwards, in Nate Jaqua and Andy Herron, the young Fire attack is one year older and could come into their own ahead of their superstar's arrival. The Revs attack came into the 2005 season much unchanged, having several players in the US camp during the winter. The difference season over season was spectacular in our case. If the same jump in form occurs with the Fire attack, look out.

Defensive midfielder Chris Armas starts the season (which will be his last) healthy for a change. Chicago has stifled the Revs attack over their last eight meetings, save a few goal-scoring outbursts here and there. They play physical and know how to disrupt New England's rhythm. Granted, they have used such tactics as vicious hacking and walking away with the ball to prevent a restart. However, you can't argue with their success.

Look for the typical Revs-Fire ugly slashfest we have grown to know and loath on saturday.

Probable lineups:

New England: (3-5-2): GK-Matt Reis, D-Jay Heaps, D-James Riley, D-Avery John, M-Steve Ralston, M-Jeff Larentowicz, M-Shalrie Joseph, M-Khano Smith, M-Andy Dorman, F-Taylor Twellman, F-Adam Cristman

Chicago: (3-5-2): GK-Matt Pickens, D-Gonzalo Segares, D-Diego Gutierrez, D-C.J. Brown, M-Ivan Guerrero, M-Thiago, M-Chris Armas, M-Justin Mapp, M-Logan Pause, F-Chris Rolfe, F-Chad Barrett.