The Chicago Fire will travel to Gillette Stadium to do battle with the New England Revolution in a matchup that is critical in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Fire have been making a bit of a playoff push with seven points in their last five games, and their last two results have been supremely impressive. Meanwhile, New England enter in great form with three wins in a row and have shot all the way up to third place in the East.
Chicago come in on the back of two great results. Two weeks ago, they travelled to playoff hopefuls Toronto FC, and went down both 1-0 and 2-1 before equalizing in the 90th minute. Then last week, they welcomed Supporters Shield hopeful FC Dallas to Toyota Park, and they proved the first defense in weeks to shut down speedy forwards Fabian Castillo and Tesho Akindele. Through a Robert Earnshaw winner in the 83rd minute, they were able to pull off a shock result. They're currently in a run of games against teams at the top of the table in both conferences, and if they can continue to get these great results they have a chance of finishing in a playoff spot.
New England come in looking one of the best sides in MLS. Lee Nguyen has been masterful, scoring a brace last week against Sporting KC, and the addition of Jermaine Jones only strengthens the team. Nguyen has lately been mentioned as an MLS MVP candidate, such has been the quality of his contribution. The Revs have won three in a row, over Chivas USA, Toronto FC, and Sporting. That is a list that continues to get more impressive as it goes along.
After the matchup against Chicago, New England will host the Montreal Impact, travel to Columbus for a showdown with the Crew, and then a trip to Kansas City where they will attempt to replicate their performance against Sporting. The game against Sporting could be very important in terms of playoff seeding. The reigning champions have been in costless fall, losing four straight. If the Revolution continue their sterling form, they could overtake Sporting for second place, especially since they currently sit only six points back with two games in hand.
After New England, the Fire will go back to Chicago for two more crucial matches in the race for a playoff spot. On September 13th, they will host Toronto FC, then DC United. As Toronto are in costless fall after their change in management and uncertainty at the ownership level, and they may soon fall out of a playoff place. This will be a fantastic chance to take points off a direct playoff rival, and if they are to finish in a playoff spot, they may be taking Toronto's place. After those two home matches, they will face off with more playoff hopefuls during trips to Houston, Philadelphia and Kansas City.
Projected Starting XI
New England: Shuttleworth, Barnes, Goncalves, Soares, Farrell, Rowe, Kobayashi, Jones, Nguyen, Bunbury, Davies
Chicago: Johnson, Segares, Larentowicz, Soumaré, Palmer, Alex, Cocis, Watson, Ward, Amarikwa, Earnshaw
Prediction: New England Revolution 2, Chicago Fire 1. Chicago will be playing with everything they have, and I like Earnshaw to open the scoring and continue his good run of form, but New England will fight back. They're just playing too well right now to drop points in this game.