I've been lucky enough to travel to Boston (lets be honest, we're in Foxbrough, Mass.) for tonight's match away to New England. Be sure to catch the pre-game with Dan Kelly and Evan Whitfield at 6pm CT with continuing coverage at 6:30pm on Comcast SportsNet Chicago or listen along with Oscar Guzman and Ysaac Alvarez on 97.5FM ESPN Deportes Radio.
With that, Five Things You Should Know About Tonight's Match at New England...
1) IT'S RAINY HERE (see above)... Working on the Mexico/Bosnia Herzegovina friendly Thursday night at Soldier Field made me feel a sense of relief that soccer stats have always been in my blood. That's mainly because it meant I wouldn't have to be outside in the miserable downpour on display that night. It seems we couldn't get enough of the rain as we headed east yesterday to make sure we got to experience it again. There's no doubt there will be rain tonight which will make the ball skip a lot on the Gillette Stadium turf.
2) IN CASE YOU WERE LIVING UNDER A ROCK yesterday, Fire head coach Frank Klopas told reporters that Chris Rolfe is available for selection for tonight's game against the Revs. Last week he traveled to Columbus and Detroit but wasn't part of the 18. Tonight he is, though given the turf and the rainy conditions, it'll be interesting to see if he's used. No one goes into the gameday 18 if they can't be called upon, so tonight could be Chris Rolfe's re-debut and whenever that occurs, he'll be making his 150th competitive appearance for the Chicago Fire.
3) ONE PLAYER THE FIRE are without tonight is Marco Pappa. The midfielder joined up with the Guatemalan national team last Sunday for a pair of preparation friendlies vs. Costa Rica this week ahead of next week's World Cup qualifying matches at Jamaica (June 8) and against the United States (June 12).
4) DEVASTATING DEFEATS... While the Fire were devastated to lose 3-2 in overtime Tuesday to the Michigan Bucks in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Revolution had their own troubles that night. Playing 90 minutes of scoreless soccer vs. USL-Pro's Harrisburg City Islanders, the Revs ran out to a 3-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of extra time with goals coming from Kelyn Rowe (95'), Lee Nguyen (101') and Benny Feilhaber (103'). Most surprisingly, the host side responded just before the extra time break when ironically former Bucks player Brian Ombiji made it 3-1 in the 111th minute. Their backs against the wall, Harrisburg grabbed two more goals in the second frame from Sainey Touray (117') and a 120th minute equalizer from J.T. Noone to send the match to penalties.
From there, New England saw two of their goal scorers in the match (Rowe and Feilhaber) fail to convert their kicks with former Fire goalkeeper Nick Noble making the winning save on the latter's take to send the City Islanders through to the next round with surely one of the most dramatic wins in Open Cup history.
Are there levels to devastation? Sure, but in the cases of both the Fire and Revs tonight, it will be interesting to see how much losses at midweek to lower-level sides effect psyche.
5) UNBEATEN SINCE 2007... The Fire and Revs had played a lot over the years... MLS Regular Season, MLS Cup Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup, even the ill-fated SuperLiga have led the Fire to play the Revs more than any other MLS team. Tonight will be the two team's 60th competitive meeting. Through those matches a real rivalry, not one manufactured by a team's front office, has been built. While the dislike for each other mainly comes from heated playoff matches, the Fire have sort of a regular season hex over the Revs, holding a 10-match unbeaten run (7-0-3) since last losing to New England 3-1 on May 6, 2007.
The lone goal scorer for the Fire that day? Chris Rolfe.
PREVIEW: Oduro, Pause, Segares Preview Saturday's game at New England
As I packed for this weekend’s trip to New England this morning, I came to the realization that I’ve never been to Boston. I decided to sit down with the Fire’s resident Boston expert, Millford Mass. Native Michael Videira to get his view of returning to his hometown, playing against his former team and learn a little bit more about our destination....
Jeff Crandall: Vito, thanks for joining me here at the gate inside O’Hare Airport. In your time with the Fire, I’ve noticed that you’re usually the only one wearing short sleeves when it’s cold outside. Today, sitting at the gate, you’re the only player that has shunned the full tracksuit for the Fire-issued golf shorts. Are you trying to be different or just hot all of the time?
Michael Videira: (Laughs). Having grown up in the northeast I think I’m just conditioned for the cold. While some guys look like they’re freezing, I feel pretty normal. Maybe it’s a Boston thing.
JC: One former Fire player I remember always wearing short sleeves in the cold was Tony Sanneh. Any connection?
MV: Tony was a great player but I don’t derive any inspiration in that way from him. I remember there were a couple games at the beginning of the season where it was cold. I always want to wear short sleeves but I usually will wear them with gloves. Our equipment guy Charles [Raycroft] won’t let me do it anymore because he says it’s not a good look. I disagree.
JC: How does it feel to be going back to your hometown for a game against your former team?
MV: It’s definitely exciting. I haven’t been back there to play in a while. It’s going to be good to get back – see old teammates from my club and youth soccer days, former teammates with the Revs and a lot of friends.
JC: I had a higher than normal comp ticket request on Tuesday in Detroit. How much have you bugged [Team Administrator] Ron Stern to make sure all your friends are there on Saturday?
MV: I don’t need too many comp tickets, at least that I know of right now. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of requests probably tonight. A couple buddies will come for sure. It’s usually a last minute thing, I’m expecting a barrage of calls the next 18 hours…
JC: You joined the Fire last year with your former Revs teammate Cory Gibbs. Another former teammate, Kheli Dube, signed with the Fire earlier this year… Do you guys ever reflect on your time in New England?
MV: It’s funny because we talk about those old, memorable locker room stories. We talk different teammates and how the organizations compare and contrast. It’s nice to have that sort of connection carry on in another club When these sort of ridiculous stories come up in a conversation with your new teammates, you have someone else to back you up with the stories you have.
JC: Could you enlighten us?
MV: I believe “Always on the Inside” should remain PG.
JC: Fair enough! What’s your favorite Boston team?
MV: The Bruins, no question. I just love watching hockey. Its hard living in Chicago when you’re rooting for a team in Boston. It was much easier there. In a lot of ways, the two cities are very much alike in the passion for their teams. You’d be hard pressed to walk into a bar in Chicago during a Blackhawks game and ask them to turn on the Bruins. It would be the same if the tables were turned in Boston.
JC: Aside from Massachusetts, you’ve lived in North Carolina, Scotland and Chicago. How’s your Boston accent doing?
MV: Not great. I don’t think I have a good Boston accent at all. I have a few words that some people would notice but it’s sort of left me over time. One thing to note is that I’ve lost the word wicked since I’ve moved to Chicago… My other buddies that live in Boston won’t stop using it and its wicked annoying.
JC: This was a wicked good interview, Mike!
MV: Oh man…
Today is Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson's 23rd birthday! Feliz cumple amigo!
Sean John had to go to work on his birthday but received quite a wish in the form of over 700 Likes on Facebook as of 1pm this afternoon...
He took time out (with Orr Barouch) to thank Fire fans for the well wishes!
We all dream of winning Open Cups! That’s right, the Fire are back in the Open Cup, looking for a return to the final and a record-tying fifth championship as they enter the tournament’s third round tonight away to the PDL’s Michigan Bucks in Pontiac, Mich.
The MatchBook Zine is an incredible publication that Section 8 Chicago puts out on most home games. Given the masses that are descending on Columbus, a special edition has been written for today's match.
Make sure to find one at the tailgate and do the crossword on the back before heading inside!
A token of our appreciation to the traveling support heading to Columbus today...
This isn't the exact keg, but it does the trick. Thanks for your support!
If you're following me on Twitter, you might have seen a mention of a Siberian Tiger on the bus to Columbus.
No worries, it isn't a live Siberian Tiger. It's a stuffed creature and this isn't his first Section 8 Chicago road trip. You see, he's sort of become a mascot, for the ISA.
Since we still have a ways to go, I caught up with Phillip to gather his interesting story...
Jeff Crandall: Phillip, how did you come to join up with Section 8 Chicago?
Philip the Tiger: It's actually quite a long story. I'm not from this country but found my way to Chicago sometime last year. Everything is sort of a blur but if I'm being honest, I was deported from the UK.
JC: What caused the deportation?
PtP: Well, some folks played a funny prank in England. Basically I was set up as a potsie to fuel a prank on the good people of Southampton. I'm a Siberian Tiger but I do have my limitations.
JC: What are those?
PtP: Well, I'm not able to move on my own free-will.
JC: Right, so what happened?
PtP: It was a long night... Who can really remember? Those guys "Ted" and "Matthew", who I counted as my friends, left me in a grassy field in Southampton. The next thing I knew, police helicopters were flying overhead.
JC (Diane Sawyer voice): Yes, Phillip, I believe you're talking about this video...
PtP: It hurts to watch it again.
JC: So you were deported and you ended up in Chicago of all places?
JC: What happened next?
PtP: Some folks on the northside took me in. Soon they introduced me to Section 8 Chicago. I've been to many a Fire home game and am currently talking to you on my second road trip.
JC: Phillip, you truly have a heroic story. Thank you for joining us on the road to Columbus...One last thing, could you give us a song?
Follow Phillip on Twitter @SnakePitPhillip.
Captain's log 8:40 AM.
That is sort of false advertising. I'm not a bus captain on this trip. Though if I was we would have left on time...
Here I sit at the Globe Pub just minutes away from taking off to Ohio as part of #FHEAST. I've positioned myself one row from the back of the bus, giving me easy access to the restroom but also a view of what's ahead of me. It may be well before noon, but the soda pop is steadily flowing and everyone's in great spirits even though we're heading to Ohio.
For those unable to make the trip, I feel this photo captures the thoughts of those on the bus as well as showcasing the pretty awesome scarf all riders are receiving on the way to the Buckeye State...
As I've written this we're off! Columbus, we're coming to do you wrong...
It's not very often I get to be a fan. While working for a soccer team is the ultimate fan boy's dream, its also a lot of well, work. Those that have watched a Fire away match with me will all tell you the same thing -- either my laptop is a security blanket or I really am glued to it. And that's fine, its what I signed up for.
This year I've been able to leave my work machine behind so I could stand and sing with Section 8 Chicago against nearly 60,000 in Montreal in March and on the blowing front of Lake Ontario in Toronto last month.
Some might think my choice of away trips means I just enjoy traveling to Canada. Those folks would be wrong...
For today I'll be among the 600+ on the ride to Columbus. I haven't left my laptop behind though. Instead, stay tuned to "Always on the Inside" as I live blog throughout the trip to and from Columbus.
Wish me luck as I join Section 8 Chicago's Whiskey Brother's Aught Five Gentleman's Guild, among others, on the seven-hour trek this morning.