Fire v Revolution match preview

Before you settle in for another match preview by Martin Tomszak, take a listen to the latest episode of the Fire Confidential Live podcast. Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch is the guest. The fan favorite talks candidly about his departure in 2010, his return to the team, playing with Cuauhtemoc Blanco, the problems that the current squad is experiencing, and his plans for the future.

What Are They All About? New England Revolution Preview

Exasperation, frustration, irritation, blood curdling anger. These are a few descriptors applicable to the mood of Fire fans over the last few weeks. Chicago heads to Foxborough, MA on Saturday having lost two in a row, and having only won one of their last seven matches. They have let leads slip away. They’ve made countless defensive blunders, lost their shape and sense of tactics, and lacked discipline at the most inopportune times. If they don’t discover a way to avoid collapses, the season might slowly slip away from their grasp. New England is on a bit of a poor run as well and when the sides meet at Gillette Stadium, there will certainly be drama.

New England Form Guide (Last 5 Matches): L-D-D-L-D

Previous match: A 2-0 away loss to Portland.

Formation in the last match: 4-2-3-1: Shuttleworth; Tierny, Goncalves, Farrell, Woodberry; Dorman, Caldwell; Rowe, Nguyen, Bunbury; Davies

Strengths: While it may be true that New England is winless in its last six matches, this won’t worry the 2014 MLS Cup runners up. The squad is largely unchanged from the side that came close to lifting the cup last season, with the only major loss being Patrick Mullins’ move to NYCFC in the expansion draft. The Revs made up for his departure by signing attack minded midfielder and U.S. international Juan Agudelo to his second stint with the team. This leaves New England with the same fast paced attacking style of play that they have become known for. It is clearly working for them because with a third of the season already gone, the Revs find themselves in second place in the East with an eye on repeating that brilliant run from last year.

The 4-2-3-1 formation that the Fire will be up against on Saturday is quite familiar to them. As mentioned in past previews, this formation is becoming popular in MLS and Chicago has shown mixed results against it. New England’s iteration of the tactic utilizes a very defense minded anchor in front of the back four. Ideally, Jermaine Jones partners Scott Caldwell in that position but his availability is in question due to a groin injury that kept him out of the U.S. friendlies this week. If Jones can go, his physical style of play and ability to control the midfield will be a prominent feature for New England. Yes, Jones occasionally bursts forward to help out in the attack, but his main threat will be his ability to dominate his own half. If he is unavailable, the Revs have shown that their squad runs deep with Andy Dorman slotting in well in that same midfield role. Either way, controlling possession in the back before swinging it out wide to the speedy wingers has been a tactic that has gained the Revs twenty one points from fifteen matches.

Attack, attack, attack: Fire fans will not be looking forward to the sight of Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, Teal Bunbury, and Charlie Davies running at a back four that will be missing Jovein Jones. This might be compounded if Juan Agudelo is deemed fit to start after the international break. Four of those five players have notched at least three goals this season, and Charlie Davies has seen a surge in form leading to five goals in ten starts. They understand each other well, make intricate overlapping runs, and have great vision when it comes to passing, often leaving the opposition ball watching on the counter. If you like counter attacking soccer, scroll through the goal highlights from any of New England’s matches this season. Whoever replaces Joevin Jones at the back will need to be especially weary of far post runs from Bunbury whose late arrivals have paid off on multiple occasions this season. If the Fire’s defensive form continues we might see a classic Jeff Larentowicz fit of rage in this one.

Weaknesses: While New England may look great going forward, they remain shaky at the back. Woeful defending has directly led to the six game winless streak that the Revs find themselves on and they reiterate the notion that MLS is a league where defending is optional. Of the nine goals given up in the last four matches, all of them can be attributed to lapses in concentration or a lack of marking. It isn’t brilliant finishes or crazy solo runs that punish the Revs, it is forgetting the basics. Their center backs allow the opposition’s forwards too much time on the ball, they fail to close passing lanes, and show a complete disregard for marking runs into the box. As a whole, the back four has not looked good. All four regular starters are at least 6’ tall and somehow still manage to mark set pieces poorly. The same can be said of the front four who aren’t exactly eager to track back after exhibiting lung busting attacking runs, especially late in matches. It seems like a broken record but the Fire need to take initiative against a team that has given up eighteen goals in fifteen matches.

Nothing to lose: At this point of the season, Chicago needs three points. While reckless abandon may not seem like a positive, in this case it has to be. The Revs will be facing a Fire side that will pull out all the stops to win their first match on the road. Similarly, New England will want to put a poor run behind them with a win. With the stakes being elevated and both teams going blow for blow, mistakes are bound to be made. New England’s shocking defending might be more evident in this situation and Fire supporters will be hoping their team exploits it. If the Fire takes the match seriously, if they fight for 90 minutes, if they avoid bicycle kicks when there are two open players making supporting runs, and if they believe in one another, they will get something from this match. This is the perfect opportunity to rekindle the fire, beating an old rival in their stadium is something that could lead to a spark.    

Prediction: Even the most ardent supporters and the most optimistic analysts are starting to lose faith. The situation will get worse before it gets better. With Maloney, Accam, and Jones out for the Fire, there is no seeable catalyst for a win. The Fire’s defensive worries seem to be growing and the only consistent aspect of the squad is that they cannot put together a 90 minute performance. Chicago 1-3 New England. Igboananike earns his DP money with another goal. Take your pick from the Rev’s front four.   


For more information on Busch's Save for SEALS program, click here.


Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Weekend picks:

    Montreal over New York City
    New England over Chicago
    Columbus and Los Angeles draw
    Seattle over FC Dallas
    Orlando City and DC draw

    58-84 to date

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    nyc-mtl tie
    ne-chi ne
    clb-la tie
    sea-dal sea
    orl-dc tie

    53-88 (trying to find that missing game...)

  • Patrick Doody has been recalled from Saint Louis FC for this match.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Not a bad call. He's been pretty solid for STLFC. Good presence.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Too bad it wasn't Doody versus Kaka last week........I'll be here all week.

  • Guys no matter how bad the team is doing it is not as bad as last year. I really enjoy watching Accam Kennedy and jones. We have not had a trio like those guys in years. As far as the coaching goes it is a mess. Why does a coach keep putting in a center forward that had not scored a goal all year. If they can get some help in the fullback position it could be an interesting finish. The game against New England could be a massacre.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    I mostly agree but I'm starting to wonder if Yallop, perhaps knowing he doesn't have enough depth of talent assembled yet to really compete, is just pressing the guys he has to do more than they believe they can. He may be hardening these guys in the crucible of hard use, hoping to hone the diamonds and weed out the chaff before making more personnel changes in the next off-season with the target for true success to come next season, but still some small hope for this year if the team eventually responds to his demands.

    For that reason I continue to let Frank Yallop have his rope. I'm not so sure that you're wrong about him. But, as you noted, he's at least made this team enjoyable to watch, when they aren't retreating into their bunker mentality. Although I think the demands are probably too much for the shallow depth at defense, there's been signs that the D can perform. If they can pick off some good defensive reinforcement in the current window and if they can stop the blunders, they can still turn out a good season this year.

    So emotionally I despair over the coaching as much as you, but I won't allow (yet) myself to give up on Yallop & his staff.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    While I fully understand that we might have some talented players in some spots this year, the results after 13 games are worse than last season. Last season we had a 2-3-8 record for 15 points with 22 goals scored and 20 goal given up. This season we have a 4-7-2 record for 14 points with 17 goals scored and 20 given up. So we have a new team getting worse results. We didnt get our 7th loss last season until the 26th week. Thats September 7th. Its only June 12th.

    Going into this season, Big Red and Sean Johnson are the only "starters" that were left from the Klopas era, but Big Red was a central midfielder for Klopas who Yallop moved back to center back. So all of these players that are playing are Yallop players that he chose to sign and decide where he wants them to play. He chose to only have 1 true RB for the season. Gehrig is a CB playing RB. He chose to only have Adailton, Big Red, and Gehrig as the only CB's for the season. He chose to have Jones be the only LB capable of playing at this level for the season. All these problems that we are faced with are choices that HE made.

    So a question I have for you is, when do you "give up" on Frank Yallop? I did on October 24, 2014.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I think he's got at least until about this time next year unless something pretty cataclysmic happens before then.

    This team was in total disarray when Yallop was hired. You yourself noted they are not as bad as last year and are sometimes interesting to watch. After one and a third seasons there is significant progress. We are close to having a good team. I think we need to credit Yallop with avoiding the temptation to play for everything NOW. A coach has to be allowed to exercise his own judgement in how he melds his assembled players into a team.

    We can agree or disagree with his moves now. I'm pretty much asking myself the same questions you are posing. Main difference is I feel it's too soon to form conclusions. But if this group comes together later this year (a big IF, I know) we'll all be delirious with joy and will forgive much that went before. I don't think we quite have the guns to do it yet, but we're close and "Who knows?"

    If this season continues to slide sideways or particularly if it goes south on us, much will depend on the next off season moves and how the team turns out in the early stages of next season.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    "You yourself noted they are not as bad as last year and are sometimes interesting to watch."

    Correction - I should have credited Brokerman with this observation, although I believe you probably feel much the same.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Frank Yallop won an MLS cup a long time ago. He has made the playoffs twice since 2007. His record in MLS is 160W-149L-116T. Winning percentage of 37% in 425 games as a MLS manager. He is not a winner and doesnt play an exciting brand of soccer. He brings the team down. That is not a small sample. Can we win a MLS Cup with Yallop as the manager? (Hint: No)

    "I think he's got at least until about this time next year unless something pretty cataclysmic happens before then."

    What do you define as cataclysmic? Is it okay for Yallop and the team to finish in 8-9-10 place again? 12 teams make the playoffs this season. There are only 20 teams in the league. Is it okay for Yallop to miss the playoffs again? Is playing well for 25-30 minutes a game enough for you as a supporter?

    "This team was in total disarray when Yallop was hired."

    I'm not sure that is entirely true though. Klopas finshed with 49 points and outside of the playoffs because of goal differential in 2013. Yallop finished with 36 points and 13 points out of the playoffs. Klopas' 2013 team scored more goals and gave up 1 more goal than Yallop's 2014 team. We continue to play long balls and make many defensive mistakes. If anything, we have been worse under Yallop than we were under Klopas.

    "If this season continues to slide sideways or particularly if it goes south on us, much will depend on the next off season moves and how the team turns out in the early stages of next season."

    This is the same thing we were saying last season. Yallop has had 3 transfer windows to figure things out. He hasn't done it yet, what makes you think that he will next off season? The team is still making the same mistakes as last season. We brought in many new players that are starting, yet we play the same way. We play long ball after long ball and pack it in late in matches. We give up late goals that cost us points and we struggle to score, just like last season. That screams coaching.

  • So who is available for tomorrow? Will it be the same 18 for Tuesday as well?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Magee is out too. I bet he goes 4-4-2, with Quincy and Kennedy up top.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    do Prado was up top with Igbo during training Thursday. Don't know if that will hold or not come tomorrow.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Some heads will explode of Amarikwa is starting again after last week.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    He has to score at some point, right?

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I think that's the logic Yallop is using.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Not if he continues to make everything exponentially more difficult than needed. He can't keep trotting him out there.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    To be clear, I want Quincy no where near the 18, let alone starting. Yallop is not very observant so I wouldnt be surprised if he is starting. We will find out soon...

  • What happened to McGee?

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Magee tweaked his hamstring in training and did not travel with the team.

  • In reply to jimmyblackcloud:

    side note: they said it's all precautionary as these things are likely to happen when a player has been not playing for a while.

    Hope he's well soon.

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