New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #CHIvNE

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Let’s get one thing straight: Jermaine Jones will not see the field on Saturday. No way, no how. Heck, there might be a better chance of a Donnie Smith sighting than seeing no. 13 roam across the Toyota Park pitch.

On Thursday, Jones, who returned to training earlier this week, told the media that he’ll be traveling with the team to Chicago for Saturday’s game. This, of course, was music to many sets of ears this side of I-91. It opened the door to the idea that, somehow, we’d witness the return of last year’s late-season savior this weekend.

But Jay Heaps essentially threw cold water on the idea, telling the media on Thursday that it’s important not to push the prized midfielder any harder than need be. And after training for only one week, putting him on the field after such a short amount of time is incongruous to that concept.

Rest assured, Jones’ return is on the horizon. But it’s better to be smart than sorry. And the smart thing is to wait until Jones is fully fit and ready, whether that’s next week or three weeks from today at home against Houston.

Given that Jones won’t see the field on Saturday, let’s focus our attention on a set of more realistic scenarios surrounding the locals heading into their conference clash against the Fire.

1. Will Diego Fagundez return to the lineup? The talented 20-year-old was certainly a force to be reckoned with last weekend, regularly connecting with teammates and making dangerous runs. In many ways, it was the kind of performance that reminded us just how good Fagundez can be when he finds space – which Chicago, an employer of the banks of four, probably won’t concede much of on Saturday. Even so, that doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of keeping him in XI. Given Juan Agudelo’s inability to crack the lineup on a regular basis as of late, and the impressive defensive work that Fagundez put in last weekend, this could be one of Heaps’ easier decisions going into Saturday’s match.

2. Who’ll start between the sticks? There’s no doubt that Brad Knighton bolstered his credentials with his performance against City. Although he wasn’t called upon to make any game-saving stops, the fact that he was able to organize a patchwork backline and make the necessary saves spoke well to his ability as a solid option behind Bobby Shuttleworth. That said, if Shuttleworth, who’s listed as a questionable with a concussion, has been cleared for action, the job is his. As good as Knighton looked last weekend, there’s a reason why Shuttleworth is the starter (hint: it might have something to with distribution), and with the Revolution in need of maximum points against the bottom-feeding Fire, don’t expect Heaps to take any chances with who starts between the sticks.

3. Will it be #TeamDaigo or #TeamDorman at the six spot? If we were awarding 12th man honors this weekend, a strong argument could be made for both Andy Dorman and Daigo Kobayashi. Both players have showcased their value in Jones’ absence, albeit in different ways. While Dorman has aced the role of gritty no. 6, Kobayashi has showed himself as an attacking catalyst. Given the Fire’s personnel, and their propensity to flood the midfield, Heaps will likely be inclined to go with Dorman when he fills out the team sheet. Even so, look for Kobayashi to come on late to spell Dorman, who’s only gone the full 90 once in the last two months.

4. What can the Revolution do to generate more offense? Last weekend’s matchup against City’s diamond formation was exactly what the Revolution needed to go snap out of their losing streak. With Jason Kreis’ side giving away plenty of space on the flanks, the Revolution took the cue, firing 14 shots and collecting eight corner kicks. Frank Yallop’s boys are a different breed, of course, so it’s unlikely the offense will flow the same way it did last weekend. In order to put together their first multiple-goal performance since, well, the last time they faced the Fire back on Jun. 13, the Revolution have to attack down the flank to pull apart a struggling backline. They’ll need their front three to work together to create matchup problems for a defense that’ll be missing it’s vocal leader in Jeff Larentowicz.

5. Are the Fire as beatable as they were two months ago? Well, the Chicago selection hasn’t exactly gotten better since the last time we saw them. After suffering a 2-0 defeat to the Revolution, the Fire have gone 1-3-1 since, and are fresh off a performance in which they conceded a trio of goals to the Crew. Even so, there’s reason to believe that Saturday’s match won’t be a walk in the park for the locals. Chicago’s lone win in the last five weeks came against the Sounders, and the Windy City selection just booked their ticket to the Open Cup semifinals earlier this week. Plus, there’s this: the Fire have only lost once in their last 13 home games to the Revolution. Easy Saturday evening for the Revolution? Yeah, not so much.

What other questions surround the Revolution heading into Saturday’s clash? Tell us in the comments section!

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