While trying to erase the memory of a 4-0 loss last weekend the Fire will open the home portion of the 2013 season against long time nemesis New England Revolution. They will have to do so without Arne Friedrich and Logan Pause again in this game as both players are still recovering from preseason injuries.
New England does not present anywhere near the offensive threat that Los Angeles did but Honduran forward Jerry Bengston should provide a challenge for Steven Kinney and Austin Berry if Frank Klopas chooses to keep the central midfield intact from opening day. The Revolution were the only MLS club idle last weekend so their first eleven isn't set in stone. Jay Heaps has options in midfield but none particularly stand out above the others. Lee Nguyen is sure to start on the left but an injury to holding midfielder Kalifa Cisse could keep him on the bench for this match. Cisse is listed was questionable although he did train during the week. Kelyn Rowe and Andy Dorman are options on the right side with Juan Toja, who doesn't appear to be the same player he was before leaving MLS, available as a swing player.
The Fire's new midfield combination should have better success in possession against this group than it did against the Galaxy in the opener. New England doesn't have a central duo that can match the qualities of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas so the unforced errors that seemed so prevalent last Sunday should be more scarce today. The match up on 0ne side of the pitch could be interesting to watch with Dilly Duka potentially facing rookie right back Andrew Farrell.
Fire fans may be disappointed if Bobby Shuttleworth has wrestled the starting goalkeeper position away from Matt Reis but could have another target of derision if former Fire forward Chad Barrett gets a start at forward.
Projected Line Ups
GK Matt Reis
D Kevin Alston, Jose Goncalves, AJ Soares, Andrew Farrell
M Lee Nguyen, Clyde Simms, Kalifa Cisse, Kelyn Rowe
F Diego Fagundez, Jerry Bengston
GK Sean Johnson
D Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Steven Kinney, Jalil Anibaba
M Dilly Duka, Joel Lindpere, Jeff Larentowicz, Patrick Nyarko
F Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald
Chicago: OUT - Arne Friedrich (hamstring), Logan Pause (quadriceps), Victor Pineda (meniscus)
New England: Matt Horth (ankle), Saer Sene (acl tear), Chris Tierney (ankle); QUESTIONABLE - Kalifa Cisse (groin), Kelyn Rowe (knee)
The Fire have had their way with New England at home over the last several seasons and that trend should continue.
Fire 2 Revolution 1
Picks around the league
Sporting KC 2 Toronto FC 1
Philadelphia 0 Colorado 0
Real Salt Lake 2 DC United 1
Vancouver 2 Columbus 1
Portland 3 Montreal 2
FC Dallas 2 Chivas USA 0
San Jose 2 New York 1
Chris Rolfe is quite the thespian....check out the Fire's latest collaboration with jersey sponsor Quaker Oats in the video above.