Chicago’s campaign effectively came to a close this past weekend after they were beaten by CF Montréal 2-0 in Canada. That result put the Fire 12 points behind the 7th and final playoff spot in the East, which is a hole too deep for them to dig out of at this stage of the year. With that in mind, there’s a good chance that their starting lineup will now be a bit different than usual, as they’ll probably turn to their youngsters in preparation for the future.
New England, on the other hand, is having a dream season. They are running away with the Supporters’ Shield, currently sat 10 points ahead of 2nd place in the MLS standings. A tie at home to the Columbus Crew in their last game wasn’t their best showing, but there’s plenty of reason to believe that the Revolution will be able to turn things around here.
Chicago will likely be without Ignacio Aliseda and Gastón Giménez, who missed the game versus Montréal due to a violation of team rules, while the likes of Francisco Calvo, Kenneth Kronholm, and Brian Gutiérrez are still seemingly injured.
Fortunately for New England, everyone is available for selection since no one is injured or suspended.
Chicago Fire: Slonina, Terán, Pineda, Omsberg, Espinoza, F. Navarro, Medrán, M. Navarro, Ivanov, Collier, Stojanović
New England Revolution: Turner, Bye, Farrell, Kessler, Jones, Buchanan, Polster, McNamara, Gil, Buksa, Bou
Ones to watch
As mentioned earlier, Chicago will likely turn to their youngsters for the rest of the season since their games don’t really matter anymore. One such youngster who has already featured is Gabriel Slonina, and he certainly looks like a key player for the future.
The goalkeeper was given the nod versus Montréal ahead of usual starter Bobby Shuttleworth, and he certainly made the most of the opportunity. Slonina was a calm and composed presence throughout, and he even made a few saves, with the highlight being a 1v1 stop on the break. He couldn’t do anything about the two goals he conceded, as he was left out to dry by his backline on the first one, while the second one was an own-goal.
It was a solid showing from him, and it was especially impressive considering the fact that he's only 17. Seemingly wise beyond his years, he comes across as a veteran on the field, coming out and commanding his backline like any older goalkeeper would.
Now, it’s time for Slonina to get some consistent game time. The circumstances could not be better, as he’ll be able to play a lot in low pressure situations, which will help him gain confidence and experience going forward.
No one knows what the future has in store, of course, but at the moment, all signs indicate that the American could be the Fire’s starting goalkeeper for years and years to come.
New England’s main playmaker is finally back in the team, and he’s back just in time to prepare for the playoffs.
Carles Gil was out for nearly a full month back in August due to a muscle injury, and he missed six games as a result. The issue halted what had been a solid season for him, as he had dished out nine assists in his first 17 games. The Revolution did well in his absence, but they knew that his return was vital if they wanted to have a real chance of winning MLS Cup at the end of the campaign.
He was forced to settle for cameos off the bench in his first two games back, but even then the Spaniard was able to add another assist to his tally. He finally started once again this past weekend, and it seems like he’ll retain his place in the lineup versus Chicago.
The attacker’s resume speaks for itself. He’s featured for the likes of Valencia, Aston Villa, and Deportivo La Coruña in the past, and he’s even made an appearance for the Spain U21 side. His career seemed like it was faltering, but his move to New England has revitalized him and his new club at the same time, and they’ve now got their sights set on silverware.
Will Gil get his lick on Wednesday? Probably.
Last time out
The last meeting between these two sides took place on opening weekend over five months ago.
Chicago made a dream start to the contest, going up 2-0 in the opening 11 minutes. A tap-in from Robert Berić opened the scoring, and then another close range finish, this time from Luka Stojanović, put the home side two in front.
New England would not go down without a fight, though. They only needed three minutes to halve the deficit thanks to Adam Buksa, who headed home a corner. The comeback was completed before the hour mark, as Gustavo Bou got on the end of a cross from Tajon Buchanan to redirect the ball into the back of the net.
Oddly enough, that would be the last goal of the game. Both sides had chances to grab a winner, but neither was able to by the end of the night. A late red card to DeJuan Jones didn’t affect the final result, and the two teams ultimately settled for a point each.
How to watch
The match kicks off at 7:00 p.m. CST, and it will air live on WGN and chicagofirefc.com for fans in Chicago and on WSBK myTV38 and myRITV for fans in the New England area. Anyone else in the United States will be able to watch the action unfold on ESPN+.