The Fire gets back into SuperLiga play tonight when they take on the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium (6 p.m. TeleFutura) in the tournament's semifinals.
"Its huge you know," said Fire forward Chris Rolfe on the match. "It's the semifinal of a tournament and... it's something that all of us are striving to win to prove that we're the best."
The Fire last played the Revs on May 9th, playing New England to a 1-1 tie at Toyota Park. The Fire will be looking to take all three points from New England this time around and the team knows that if they want to advance they will need to improve upon Saturday's play in the final third of the field. "I thought that we could've been better with the ball," said Denis Hamlett when speaking about the Fire's attacking play from last Saturday's match. "We could've played a little bit faster but at the end we created enough chances. We had really good looks and we didn't get them and that's part of the game. You've got to finish your chances and our guys understand that and there's a little frustration."
If the Fire wins tonight they will host the SuperLiga final (it takes place on August 5th...) against either Tigres UANL or Santos Laguna. Lose, and they can kiss SuperLiga (and the $1 million winner's check) goodbye.
Hopefully the Fire step up tomorrow (and who knows, maybe they'll finish a shot or two...) and get all three points in Boston.
Here are a couple things that I see being key to the match's outcome:
**Cuauhtemoc Blanco needs to step up:**
If the Fire want to advance to the SuperLiga finals (and quite frankly, if they want to live up to their full potential) then Cuauhtemoc Blanco has to start playing better. The midfielder has seen a dip in his form as of late and tonight's game would be an ideal time to step up.
The main thing for me with Blanco's play is that he needs to stop being the attack-killer that he has turned into as of late. The enormous amount of turnovers that his tricks and back heels cause is nauseating and his deliberation with the ball is the end of many a Fire attack. Blanco can be a great player when he is on form but right now he simply isn't.
Now I'm not entirely sure what the Fire can do to improve Blanco's play but I think it would be wise to slide him back into the midfield and let Chris Rolfe pair with Brian McBride up top. Blanco and McBride (despite the fact that both are excellent players) are somewhat of an odd couple up top and as I've mentioned in other posts, I think it's time Denis Hamlett gave a different forward duo a run.
**The play of Shalrie Joseph:**
Joseph, the Revs' star midfielder, is having another very solid season for the team. He leads the squad in both goals and assists and really the Revolution's whole attack runs through him. If the Fire can limit Joseph I think they stand a great chance of winning the match and advancing to the all-important SuperLiga final.
Midfielder John Thorrington will likely be the player tasked with defending Joseph and if he gives a solid defensive effort I think the Fire will leave Boston with the win.
In my mind there really isn't any reason why the Fire shouldn't walk away winners from tonight's match. They are taking SuperLiga very seriously and with all the injuries that New England is facing I don't think the Fire should have too much trouble. I'm thinking the Fire get the win by the margin of 1-0. I'll say Chris Rolfe gets the match winner for the Fire.