|Matchup||Chicago Fire (6-16-10, 28 pts.) vs. New England Revolution (10-13-9, 39 pts.)|
|Date||Sunday, October 16 • 2:00 p.m. CT|
|Location||Bridgeview, Ill. • Toyota Park|
|TV||CSN Chicago Plus (Pregame Coverage: 1:30 p.m. CT)|
|Radio (Spanish)||97.5 FM Poder|
|Valspar Matchday Primer||Watch Now|
Entering their final home contest of 2016, the Chicago Fire are looking to claim a win over the visiting New England Revolution Sunday afternoon on Fan Appreciation Day at Toyota Park. Match coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. CT on CSN Chicago Plus, with kickoff to follow at 2 p.m. The Fire will be looking to wrap up another home season on a high note, despite playing on short rest after a Thursday night match against Columbus. With that in mind, here are five storylines to track ahead of Sunday's matchup:
Shifting into Sunday
The Chicago Fire face a quick pivot into their final home match of the 2016 season. Sunday’s match kicks off less than 72 hours after the conclusion of Chicago's Thursday night contest against visiting Columbus Crew SC, which means the re-introduction of David Accam from international duty is likely to be a boost for the Men In Red. After Columbus took a 1-0 lead into halftime, the two Eastern Conference rivals saw a wide open second half play to a 2-2 draw when Crew SC's Adam Jahn completed his brace and notched the 80th-minute equalizer for a share of the points for the visitors. It was little consolation for Columbus, however, which saw any hopes of a playoff bid extinguished with the draw.
A well-rested New England side, meanwhile, hopes to avoid the same fate at the hands of the Fire on Sunday. Head coach Jay Heaps’ men remain alive in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, sitting below the red line in seventh place but only three points behind Philadelphia (42 points), four behind D.C. United (43) and five behind a Montreal side they'll face next week on Decision Day. With two games on the slate, New England -- which has not played since a 3-1 win over Sporting KC Oct. 1 -- will be playing for their postseason lives and hoping for favorable results around the league while Chicago looks to continue its role as playoff spoilers.
Veljko Paunovic did not mince words after Thursday night's draw, making clear his desire to deliver three points for the home crowd in Chicago's final match at Toyota Park this season. It also serves as their first at home against New England, despite the two teams having already squared off on three prior occasions this season. The Fire will be looking to leverage that home field advantage to claim their first points against New England before the season expires. In the two prior meetings in MLS play, New England defeated head coach Veljko Paunovic’s men by scorelines of 2-0 and 1-0 respectively in matches played in May and July. The Revolution were then able to advance to the 2016 U.S. Open Cup final at the Fire’s expense in early August. Despite a postseason berth being out of the picture, the Fire will be doing all they can to avoid three losses to the Revs in the same season for the first time since 2005.
Midfielder Arturo Alvarez picked up his team-leading eighth assist against the Revolution on Thursday night, after de Leeuw was able to finish off his low cross in the box shortly after half time. With that helper to his credit, the 31-year-old has officially doubled up his previous season high for assists in a single season, having banked four with FC Dallas in 2005. His five goals scored this season equal his career high, having racked up the same total with the Earthquakes in 2009.
Revs on a run
The Revolution take the field on Sunday afternoon as one of the hottest teams in MLS, having picked up wins in four of their last five outings. One of the reasons for the sudden surge has been the play of recent U.S. Men’s National Team call-up Juan Agudelo, who has been thriving for New England as of late. The 23-year-old has picked up three goals in his team’s last three outings, including an 83rd minute exclamation point on his team’s 3-1 victory over SKC on Oct. 1. Curbing Agudelo’s recent impact will be an emphasis for the Fire defense come this weekend.
Despite this season’s results, the Fire still own a narrow edge in the all-time series over New England with a record of 22-21-11 dating back to 1998. They’ve mostly been able to keep things clean at home over the years as well, boasting a record of 8-2-4 against the Revolution in matches played at Toyota Park.