MLS Regular Season
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
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...
The Chicago Fire hold an impressive 10-6-6- record at Columbus Crew stadium in 22 competitive matches since the soccer-specific venue opened in 1999. The Crew may be tagged as “America’s Hardest Working Team,” but the Fire have ruined many of their days working from home. As we once again make Crew Stadium FireHouse East (#FHEAST) this weekend, here are five memorable matches between the two sides in the Ohio capital...
October 10, 1999 • Chicago Fire 2-1 Win
Hosting the Fire at their brand new soccer specific stadium almost a year after the Bob Bradley’s side upended the Crew 2-1 in U.S. Open Cup final, the home side was happy to run out to a 2-0 lead, using goals from Brian McBride (5’) and Jeff Cunningham (65’). The second goal was enough to get the Fire to respond as Ante Razov tallied a penalty a minute later before Chicagoan Tommy Soehn grabbed the equalizer 10 minutes later to take the match to the vaunted hockey-style shootout. The Fire were able to keep the Crew from feeling any redemption, winning the pseudo-penalty decider 2-1 thanks to three saves from goalkeeper Zach Thornton and two goals from Razov and Dema Kovalenko.
April 1, 2000 • Chicago Fire 2-0 Win
This match is notable for featuring four future MLS head coaches in their playing days - Peter Nowak, Jesse Marsch, Tom Soehn, and Robert Warzycha. With all that future managing talent in one match, you’ve got to wonder who on the Fire’s current roster could be a manager in coming years… That’s not to mention future Ring of Fire inductees Lubos Kubik, and CJ Brown as well as Brian McBride (playing at that time for the Crew). Ultimately, the Fire would take this match with a 5th minute goal from Ante Razov and another from Nowak in the 36th.
July 20, 2004 • Chicago Fire 2-1 Win (U.S. Open Cup 4th Round)
Seeing as the team is about to once again begin play in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the current penchant for coming from behind, this one seemed appropriate. Back in 2004, the Fire entered the tournament with a fourth round match at that year’s Supporters Shield winners. The Crew took a 1-0 lead into halftime via Frankie Hejduk’s 27th minute strike but Damani Ralph responded for the Fire in the 65th minute to eventually send it to extra time. Nearing the end of the first overtime period, Chris Armas set up Ralph for the Golden Goal winner in the 105th minute and beginning the team’s run to the 2004 final.
September 8, 2007 • Chicago Fire 1-0 Win
Costa Rican World Cup veteran and former Manchester City striker Paulo Wanchope only played for the Fire for one year, scoring just 2 goals in 12 appearances. Fortunately, one of those came in the 65th minute of this match (anyone noticing a pattern here?) and combining with Matt Pickens’ five saves was enough to collect all three points at Columbus. The result would go a long way towards helping the Fire recover from an early-season slump to eventually make the MLS Cup playoffs and the Eastern Conference championship match.
June 12, 2011 • Chicago Fire 1-0 Win
The 2011 season marked this first year of the club-sponsored fan bus trip to Crew Stadium, with over 500 supporters cheering on the Men in Red behind enemy lines. Both teams fought hard, but as seen in the history between these sides, the excitement was saved until the very end. In the 90th minute, Cristian Nazarit put himself in the right place at the right time to slot home Orr Barouch’s rebound, to take a 1-0 lead. Clearly, the presence of the traveling supporters had been felt by the team and resulted in a truly massive goal.
The victory was also the team’s first in five tries across all competitions at Crew Stadium since the last win on September 8, 2007.
WATCH: Frank Klopas talks 2011 #FHEAST Invasion of Columbus
Our first tease of this very blog! Thanks to Kheli Dube, Tony Walls, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Sean Johnson for standing in defense with me... Thanks to Daniel Paladini for not hitting me in the head.
Sorry that I flinched (and then laughed)...