Every game is big from this point forward.
As the Eastern Conference playoff race approaches the stretch run every club still has a realistic chance of qualifying for postseason play (with the exception of DC and Toronto FC). The Fire are two points behind fifth place Houston and only one point ahead of the Revolution. Chicago holds a game in hand against New England so a road win here would put them in good position to advance up the table in pursuit of one of the five playoff spots.
The Fire lost their home opener this season to this club back in March but both have gone through some significant changes since then. After a good start to 2013, the Revolution have stumbled of late losing four of their last six contests including a 3-0 hammering in Kansas City last weekend. They've added Juan Agudelo and just recently Charlie Davies but don't look for the latter to start. Agudelo has missed the last eight games with an injury and Davies is not yet match fit but both have trained in full this week. They've been good defensively for most of the year however and are second in the East in least goals allowed.
Projected line ups
Johnson; Segares, Berry, Soumare, Anibaba; Lindpere, Larentowicz, Rios, Duka; Magee, Anangonó
Shuttleworth; Alston, Goncalves, McCarthy, Farrell; Caldwell, Tierney, Rowe, Nguyen, Sene; Agudelo
Jay Heaps has gone with a 4-5-1 formation but injuries, fitness, and suspension throw some question into who his attackers will be. Davies seems unlikely to see significant minutes and Agudelo may start despite a long stretch of inactivity. Dimitry Imbongo is serving a one game suspension after picking up two yellow cards in KC and Diego Fagundez isn't a prototypical target forward that is best suited for a lone front runner role. Sene could move up top to start or Jerry Bengston could find his way back into the line-up if Agudelo doesn't get the nod. The Revs' DP has scored once all season and it consequently came against Chicago in that home opener. Chad Barrett was in the 18 last weekend ahead of Bengston. Juan Toja hasn't been the same player he was before leaving MLS the first time but he does see time coming off the bench. Midfielder Andy Dorman is also unavailable due to a red card suspension.
The Fire will have Mike Magee back after missing last weekend's win over Montreal. The league's golden boot co-leader resumed full training this week and should be good to start. Chris Rolfe was held out of full training for most of the week so he's not likely to be in the first eleven, instead we should see a Magee/Anangonó pairing up top. Dilly Duka poses another injury concern on the outside after leaving the Montreal game with an ankle injury. He did resume participation in full practice so he'll play if he's ready. With Patrick Nyarko likely missing one more match due to concussion symptoms and Rolfe ailing Frank Klopas' choices on the outside have dwindled a bit. Alex or even Logan Pause are capable of a move out wide if necessary. Why Victor Pineda has not figured into the 18 yet is questionable considering the injury situation on the outside.
The main point of interest for Chicago supporters could be the debut of Egidio Arévalo Rios in midfield. The newest DP addition has trained fully with the club since last Friday and is expected to receive his visa and ITC paperwork in time for this match. How his pairing with Larentowicz and integration into the club works on the field during a game remains to be seen given his short time with the team. The technical staff is very high on Rios and by all accounts he has been impressive during the last week of training.
QUESTIONABLE: Patrick Nyarko (concussion symptoms), Chris Rolfe (L hamstring tightness), Mike Magee (R calf tightness)
OUT: Gabe Latigue (R ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: Clyde Simms (R turf toe)
The Fire are a better team on paper than New England but that didn't stop them from losing the home opener back in March. The Revolution have had difficulty scoring all season and their newly acquired attackers haven't had much chance to get fit. Jay Heaps' and the Revs plodding, methodical style doesn't lend itself to attractive soccer and they've been blanked eight times this season including the last two matches.
The Fire's miserable 0-8-2 record on turf over the last 10 contests can't be ignored either. Chicago seems to be in the midst of a good run of form in league play (USOC semi-final not withstanding) and New England appears to be headed in the other direction.
A draw here wouldn't be disastrous but a win would be significant.
Fire 2 Revolution 1
The rest of the league
Montreal 2 DC United 0
Columbus 2 Toronto FC 1
New York 2 Philadelphia 1
Houston 1 Seattle 1
Colorado 2 Vancouver 2
Los Angeles 2 Real Salt Lake 1
Portland 2 FC Dallas 0
San Jose 1 Sporting KC 2
Season record 103/219