Chicago Fire Host New England Revolution on Special Evening at Toyota Park

 

MATCH INFO  
Matchup Chicago Fire (7-18-6, 27 points) vs.
New England Revolution (13-10-8, 47 points)
Date Saturday, October 3 • 7:30 p.m. CT
Location Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.
TV My50 Chicago (Pregame: 7 p.m. CT)
Radio ESPN Deportes 97.5 FM Chicago (Spanish) 
Watch Fire Field Vision Powered by NovaCare
#RazovROF Razov Q&A | All-Time Goals | Testimonial

Just two home fixtures remain on the 2015 schedule for the Chicago Fire, with the first coming Saturday (Oct. 3) against the second-place New England Revolution in a match presented by University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT at Toyota Park with pregame coverage hosted by Dan Kelly and Kevin Egan beginning at 7 p.m. on My50 Chicago. 

RAZOV SET FOR RING OF FIRE INDUCTION

A Chicago Fire original and the club's all-time leading goal-scorer is set to become the eighth individual officially inducted into the Chicago Fire Soccer Club's Ring of Fire during halftime of Saturday night's match. Ante Razov, who scored 95 goals across all competitions and 76 in MLS play for the Fire from 1998-2004, will be honored for his prolific playing career and for his contributions to the tradition of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Read a Q&A with Razov here and join him at The Globe Pub in Chicago Friday (4:30-6:30 p.m.) to celebrate his enshrinement.

FIRE, UI HEALTH HOST BREAST CANCER AWARENESS NIGHT

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club and University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health) have teamed up for the fourth consecutive year to host Breast Cancer Awareness Night on Saturday. The match will be played with a commemorative pink adidas NATIVO 2015 Official Match Ball, pink corner flags and pink goal nets, and both the ceremonial first kick and coin toss will be performed by UI Health representatives who work closely with breast cancer prevention and treatment. Additionally, the first 5,000 fans through the gates at Toyota Park will receive a mini pink rally scarf. 

CHICAGO FIRE VS. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 

Playing their third match under the direction of head coach Brian Bliss, the Chicago Fire will face a motivated New England side aiming to assure itself of optimal playoff positioning. The Revs stand second in the East, level in points and games played with Columbus Crew SC and only two points in front of D.C. United. 

Chicago, meanwhile, is looking to snap its current five-match losing skid and put to rest a spell in which it has scored 12 goals in its last six road matches yet earned only two points from those six games. Now returning to Toyota Park, Brian Bliss and the Fire are attempting to build off Gilberto's two-goal effort at Toronto that came courtesy of the attacking play from Patrick Nyarko, David Accam, Mike Magee and others. For Bliss, the free-flowing attack is often a result of the belief that comes with being on the ball early in the match. 

"We're at home, we've probably got to drive the initiative a little bit more maybe than we did in Montreal and Toronto," Bliss said. "We probably need to step up higher in the field and apply pressure early, but we've also got to be patient and be able to use the ball to gain some confidence going forward, a lot of that can be lateral play. I know there's a goal down at the other end but it can't be two-three passes and send it toward the white thing. That's our end goal but there's other ways to get there. I think you breed more confidence in guys when you can string more passes together and get the other team chasing a bit."

Indeed, as Bliss stressed the importance of keeping the ball on the deck in potentially windy conditions Saturday at Toyota Park, defender Lovel Palmer echoed his sentiments.

"That's what we've been focusing on, playing through the lines from defense, to midfield to strikers instead of going direct," Palmer said. "Sometimes we're going to go direct but we have good ball-players who can handle the ball, so play into them, talk, communicate, just keep playing and build confidence." 

After a convincing 2-0 victory at Gillette Stadium in the first Chicago-New England fixture this season, the Revs came to Toyota Park on July 25 and emerged with a point in a 2-2 draw. Razvan Cocis gave the Men In Red a lead in the 75th minute, only to watch as Kelyn Rowe knocked in a cross at the other end just two minutes later to see the game end in a share of the points. It's one of all too many matches in 2015 in which Chicago has leaked points after being in position to finish off a victory.

The Fire's personnel in the back half has taken a hit of late, with season-ending injuries to goalkeeper Sean Johnson and centerback Eric Gehrig as well as a groin issue that is likely to keep defender Ty Harden from suiting up Saturday. Bliss, however, spoke highly of rookie outside back Patrick Doody earlier this week and also was pleased with the overall play of Daneil Cyrus playing alongside Jeff Larentowicz. 

T-shirt concept and design by JL Murtaugh for NO GRAND

"I know we gave up three goals (at Toronto FC) but two of them were off restarts," Bliss said. "(Cyrus) could have done a little better twice down near the corner flag that ended up in a corner kick and eventually a goal, but off what I would call the run of play, there were only a couple moments where I had my heart in my throat, so to speak. It was mostly off Giovinco, not the rest of them. Collectively, (Larentowicz and Cyrus) did quite well but it was the two corner kicks that were our undoing."

After a run of six straight wins from Aug. 1-Sept. 15 that saw them climb the Eastern Conference table, the Revs arrive in Bridgeview winless in two and looking to officially clinch their postseason berth with a win or tie. Jay Heaps' side is still as potent as ever in attack, with Charlie Davies remaining in fine form while Juan Agudelo has become a super-sub of late, coming on in a relief role in nine of New England's last 10 matches. 

Regardless of the opposition, Bliss is focused primarily on encouraging the commitment to possession and the desire to compete that he feels are critical to moving the group forward in the final month.

"I think the guys have adapted well in a short amount of time, they're trying and looking to do the things we're asking them to do," he said. "I think over the last two to three training sessions that's getting better each time, the spirit is still good despite the record, so I can't complain."

REFEREE: Kevin Stott. AR1 (bench): Brian Poeschel; AR2 (opposite): Andrew Bigelow; 4th: Tyler Ploeger

MLS Career: 273 games; FC/gm: 25.4; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 69; pens: 71

SUSPENDED: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Eric Gehrig, Kennedy Igboananike, Patrick Nyarko … NE: Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Chris Ritter, Adailton, Jeff Larentowicz, Matt Polster … NE: Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, Lee Nguyen, Scott Caldwell, Chris Tierney
DISABLED LIST: NE: Darrius Barnes
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CHI: Matt Polster (USA; CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship) ... NE: Zachary Herivaux (Haiti; CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (51 meetings): Fire 21 wins, 68 goals … Revolution 19 wins, 70 goals … Ties 11
AT CHICAGO (25 meetings): Fire 12 wins, 42 goals … Revolution 5 wins, 32 goals … Ties 8

Download the complete MLS Game Guide