Fire set to take on Revolution in Playoffs

Steve Nicol, Paul Mariner

When the Fire played the New England Revolution on Oct. 17, many saw the match as a possible playoff preview.

Now that the MLS regular season has come to a close those predictions of a Fire-Revolution postseason battle have come true. The sides will begin their two-leg Eastern Conference semifinal series at 3 p.m. Saturday at Gillette Stadium; the second game will be at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 at Toyota Park. Both games will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel.
The Fire, which became the sixth MLS team to clinch a spot in the postseason after their win Thursday against Chivas USA, finished 2009 in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Revolution secured their playoff spot Sunday, clinching the Eastern Conference's third seed with a 1-0 win over the first-place Columbus Crew.

The Fire and Revolution played each other three times this year -- twice in league action and once in the SuperLiga tournament. The Fire got the better of New England in the season series, posting a 1-0-2 record.

"They have a competitive team, a team that doesn't quit," Fire coach Denis Hamlett said Sunday. "(But now) you throw the regular season out the window. Now it's about the playoffs and taking care of business in these next two games."

My views on the Revolution as an opponent? Well, I can't say that New England scares me. The Fire has done pretty well against the Revs every time the two sides have run out there and I think that the matchup bodes pretty well for the Fire. I definitely think that a New England matchup is better than the Real Salt Lake alternative and I think we'll see the Fire do well in this series.

That being said, we all know about the playoff history between the two clubs. This series will mark the eighth time the Fire and the Revs will meet in the playoffs and the Revs have generally gotten the best of the Fire in the postseason - seeing their three series win streak against Chicago come to an end only last year.

As far as an early prediction for the series goes, I'll go ahead and say that the Fire will advance to take on the winner of the Columbus-Real Salt Lake series. I just don't see New England having enough to match the Fire's overall talent - especially now that the team is starting to get healthy.

I'll have a lot more coverage on this series as the week moves along and I'll be back today with a brief piece on the rest of the MLS playoff bracket, so stay tuned for that. Until then, feel free to share how you feel about New England as an opponent in the comments section below.

Comments

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  • I'm balancing not be excited about playing NE again (much less playing at the Razor) against my belief that NE's current team state likely makes them the best matchup for us.

    Definitely glad we don't have to travel to Rio Tinto and play there . . .

    Guess I will just have to be happy with a pair of games against the team I hate the most and hope we buck the trend and get a decent ref and maybe a little soccer in between the fouling.

  • I like this match up, not sure why everybody says United is the bigger conf. rival. I think this is a good match up for the Fire. Both have good players that can match up with one another. I also think Revs that the better midfield which should make for interesting playoff. I sure Nicol will want to win the first match because he knows the Fire will have a hard time scoring a Toyota Park. I think weather might play a big factor and nobody gets injured in the first semi game at Gillette stadium

  • The forecast for Saturday in New England is 60 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain. Weather should not be much of a factor.

    The Fire is still a clearly better side than this version of the Revolution. NE has been crippled with more injuries than the Fire have.

    Hammy's game plan last post season was to play for a tie in the opener and win the second game at home. I'm sure nothing will change much this time around.

    The only concern I have about this series is the match-up behind the bench. Nicol is undoubtedly better than our guy.

    New England will make it physical, chippy, and boring due to their lack of talent.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCNJ0n9mAvA

  • In reply to Chow:

    SWEET VIDEO!! how did you change your profile picture for ChicagoNow?

  • In reply to TKing:

    just click on your user name and it should take you to settings

  • Sam,

    This is my first time at your site. I was a avid reader of the Red Card before Luis left for another job. My Fire news has been missing since. Thankfully I have run into your website and I am thrilled with the writing and presentation. Good Work!

    As for the Fire we may be better on paper, but lets be honest, paper does not matter in the playoffs. What matters is grit, heart, and coaching. With that said, this will be a tough and crucial test playing such a HATED opponent. We need conde, blanco, and segares back in the line up to win. Not only that but heart has been lack luster with our last few performances. I sat in the rain as the Fire barely beat Chivas. We have no mojo going into the playoffs. If we have any chance we need to dominate the Revs to build a sense of ownership of this title race. Go Fire!

  • In reply to TKing:

    Glad you found the site TKing! Always good to have more readers on board.

  • In reply to TKing:

    Tking,
    I can understand the frustration on the bunkering, but given the field conditions and the fact that they only needed one point on Thursday I can understand why Hamlett opted to focus on defending for the remainder of the game.

    There was no sense in pushing the attack in that weather since the footing was treacherous and the midfield area was holding water like a swamp.

  • In reply to TKing:

    I agree, don't know why DC is our bigger rival. We've played the Revs how many times in a row now? The more Nicol reminds me of Sir Fergie is borderline scary. Especially since I'm a Liverpool fan. It still will really bug me watching us play in the empty Razor(I like that KAR). Well, It's safe to say it's Fall again, with the cold wind and leaves on the ground outside, Fire playing the Revs. Ah, the memories. Remeber two years ago when we lost to the Twellman bicycle kick in the Conference Final? And the year before that when we lost on penalties? Bad old times. So, enough with the beating around the bush, gametime. I'll go with Fire 1, Revs 0 for the first leg. Second one should be a scoreless draw.

  • In reply to TKing:

    I dont think New England has a chance in this one...

  • Final Thought...

    About the Chivas game, I know the weather was terrible (I know because I was in the second row) but the way we bunker-ed in to defend after the Lillingston goal was a disgrace. We had control of the game and after hte goal we let go and put 11 guys behind the ball. No one pressured there back line. News to Denis Hamlett you dont hold off a victory by letting the other team control the ball and have chances. We have done this all year long! If we do this in hte playoffs the same thing will be happening has last year, the team will be watching the Cup at home. IF anyone disagrees please let me know because I hope Im wrong.

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