The Chicago Fire head into Saturday’s match at New England (6:30 pm CT, CSN) coming off of something unfamiliar: a win.
The Fire won their first match in 11 tries last Sunday, getting a stoppage-time goal to defeat Columbus 1-0 at Crew Stadium. The win gave Chicago a significant boost; now they’re looking to use their newfound momentum to go into Gillette Stadium and pick up their second victory in a row.
“It was a huge win at Columbus,” Fire winger Patrick Nyarko said Thursday. “It was really important and it gives us confidence for New England.”
Nyarko said that the Fire will need to match the hard-working Revs’ intensity to get a result on Saturday.
“We feel like if we match their intensity the soccer part will take care of itself,” Nyarko said. “We’ve just got to match the intensity, especially on their home field. They know how to play there, they have a game plan that they’ve always executed and they’re mostly successful at home on that turf.”
Part of the Revs’ game plan will be to play directly. New England likes to launch long balls to big forward Rajko Lekic and his speedy strike partner Kenny Mansally, something the Fire will have to be prepared for.
“They’re going to play really direct,” Nyarko said. “We’ve got to be ready for that. I think Frank [Klopas, interim head coach] has a good game plan going into it and hopefully us players can stay in tune for 90 minutes.”
Nyarko will have to make sure to keep an eye on Revs right back Kevin Alston, who loves to push forward and get into the attack. Nyarko and fellow winger Dominic Oduro will need to do their best to keep Alston pinned back while trying to take advantage of the space he leaves open while in the offensive third.
“With Kevin, even if you’re aggressive he’s going to pick his spots to get forward,” Nyarko said. “So it’s just about playing smart and basically not giving anything on the offensive end. And when we get it the breaks should be lightning quick. We just need to get into that hole that he left behind — and he does that a lot — so we’ve got to look to exploit that too and use our counter a lot quicker on Saturday.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.