Here are five things you should know heading into Saturday night's match vs. New England (6pm CT on My50/TWCSC/La Ley 107.9FM)
Both Teams Need a League win
Both sides had midweek Open Cup matches with the Fire advancing 3-1 past the Atlanta Silverbacks to the competition’s semifinals while New England dropped a 2-0 result at Philadelphia.
While both clubs picked up a couple wins in that competition during Major League Soccer’s World Cup break, it’s been some time since either team has come away with three points in the league. The Fire haven’t won an MLS match since a 2-1 victory over Sporting KC on May 18 while New England has been winless since a 2-1 win over D.C. United on May 24.
Though the Fire have two league draws since returning from the break, New England has lost both matches vs. Philadelphia and Real Salt Lake and come into this match on a four-game losing streak.
Turf Monkey off the back?
The Chicago Fire won their first game on turf in over three years Wednesday in Atlanta. Perhaps the mental hurdle of winning on an artificial surface is gone in good time as the team will look to do it again Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
- TACTICAL: Who to rotate in vs. New England
The Fire are 3-12-4 since 2010 on the fake stuff, with their last league win coming over four years ago in a 1-0 victory at New England. For the record, the Fire are unbeaten on turf in the Frank Yallop era, going 1-0-2 across all competitions this season.
Lee Nguyen Suspended
The Men in Red will receive a bit of a boost as Revolution playmaker Lee Nguyen will serve a one-game suspension for Saturday’s match. The MLS Disciplinary Committee ruled this week that Nguyen endangered the safety of his opponent, in this case John Stertzer when he stomped on the RSL midfielder’s back in the teams’ encounter on July 4.
Playing their fourth match in 11 days, Frank Yallop and his staff have been adamant about the need for some rotation in the squad to make it through a difficult stretch.
We saw this a little bit as folks scratched their head Wednesday night with Quincy Amarikwa’s making way for Fire newbie Matt Fondy in the 63rd minute with the teams still locked at 1-1. That move worked out, with Fondy drawing the game-winning penalty kick and Yallop maintained following the match that it would continue.
“We’re going to keep rotating a little bit,” he said. “We’re going to talk to some guys, see how they’re feeling. We traveled Thursday and though it’s not too far, it’s a good two-and-a-half hour flight. After a tough 90 minute game on turf in Atlanta, we feel pretty good and because of the rotation, we’re going to have a pretty fresh unit vs. New England.
Fire Weekly Preview
Myself, Fred Huebner and Kevin Egan were at it again this morning, recapping the last week and previewing tonight’s match vs. New England with Fox Soccer Analyst Kyle McCarthy and one of Wednesday’s heroes in Matt Fondy.
Have a listen before tonight’s match!