Preview: #CHIvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/capturedimages.biz

The New England Revolution travel to Chicago to take on the Fire this Saturday at Toyota Park. This Eastern Conference matchup of longtime rivals will give New England another solid test on the road.

Chicago’s Form:

Chicago is still searching for its first win of the young MLS season, with a record of 0-1-5 through six games, but it’s not time for Fire coach Frank Yallop to hit the panic button yet.

With five ties, the team has had its chances.

Last weekend against Montreal at venerable Olympic Stadium, the Fire fell into an early rut after Jack McInerney bagged one before the break. Despite a number of disturbingly poor finishes, Quincy Amerikwa brought one back for the guests early in the second half to seal the side’s fifth tie in six tries.

Being back at home this weekend, New England can certainly expect an opponent eager to get the monkey of its back.

Chicago Players to watch:

Mike Magee- Obviously New England will have to keep tabs on the reigning MLS MVP, as his offensive minded characteristics are brilliant. Magee knows how to scrap for goals and uses positioning well. This can become an issue with a depleted backline for the Revolution.

Quincy Amarikwa- The forward has been on a roll to start the 2014 season, with three goals in six games so far. Expect Amarikwa to be confident up front and anxious to test New England in the air.

Harry Shipp- the 22-year-old has been one of the best MLS rookie’s so far this season, as Yallop has utilized him in a wider role. Shipp adds well to the attack, providing creative chances constantly.

Storylines:

Can Chicago play a full 90 minutes?

When you look at Chicago’s record, the fives tie really stick out. Sure, the team has been gaining points, but how many have they dropped for simple mistakes?

Coach Frank Yallop needs his team focused on the task at hand for the entire game. This season’s Eastern Conference battles will be fierce, letting road teams leave Chicago with any points will only make the Fire’s case for a postseason berth that much tougher.

Andrew Farrell is living up to the hype.

Farrell was excellent filling into the center back role last week against Houston, earning MLS Team of the Week honors for the second time this season. In just his second season, the former first round pick looks like a grizzled veteran – and not just because of his untamed beard.

With the absence of Jose Goncalves for the time being, look for Farrell to show versatility in central defense. With this versatility, the talk of future United States National team callups may come sooner than most think.

Is Jay Heaps going to change his tactics?

When New England’s assistant coach Tom Soehn took over for the suspended Heaps last weekend, many noticed some different tatics towards the end of the game.

Soehn came out in the secound half against Houston with a team that could play on the counter, one that wasn’t exactly focused on keeping the ball on the rug. New England utilized some agile play to finally find the back of the net. That being said, this week we do not see Soehn at the helm again.

Heaps will need to find a balance with his new squad members. With midfielder Kelyn Rowe unlikely to be at 100 percent this weekend, the dynamic of a possesion based attack into the final third is much more difficult.

How bad does New England miss Juan Agudelo?

It’s easy to see what Agudelo meant to this Revloution team last fall. The team cannot find the back of the net and the sheer abililty to score is no longer there.

Agudelo was certainly one of the best young MLS players in recent years. His presence on the pitch didn’t just create goals, it opened up the play around him.

Teal Bunbury has not had the best of starts this season, and has had the pressure of filling in for Agudelo this season.

Jerry Bengtson may very well deserve a starting spot, given the timing and speed of his goal against Houston. The forward is making a push to make the World Cup in his native country of Honduras.

Dimitry Imbongo, last year’s late-season bloomer, hasn’t seen much of the field so far for New England and appears have fallen out of favor with the emergence of Charlie Davies.

What is going to happen:

I think Chicago is going to get it’s first victory of the season. New England’s goal scoring woes are not going to corrected in just one game, and recent injuries really test the team’s depth.

With New England’s defensive ability, this game will not have a lot of goals.

Prediction: 1-0 Chicago

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About Justin Churchill