New England Soccer Today

Five Questions: #CHIvNE

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

The third time’s a charm. Well, at least that’s what the Revolution are hoping is the case this weekend in the Windy City.

After letting the postseason clincher slip through their hands against the Impact and Union, the locals are intent to not let it happen again when they face the bottom-feeding Fire on Saturday.

With the clincher essentially theirs to lose this weekend, let’s find out what questions surround the Revolution heading into a match that has a set of three points ripe for the picking.

1. Can the finishing improve after last weekend’s wasteful evening? For the cardiac health and short-term sanity of Revolution supporters, let’s hope so. After firing close to 5,897 shots (or at least it seemed like it) against one of the worst teams in the league, all the locals had to show for it was strike from the spot. Yes, it took a freebie to avoid a pitiful loss to a USL-strength opponent. With another glorified third-division foe on tap, the Revolution should be able to convert their chances with far greater frequency. This should be especially true with journeyman Jon Busch between the sticks. Unless, of course, Chicago’s keeper is actually Andre Blake in a Jon Busch mask, which would be weird and awesome at the same time.

2. Will there be any changes to the lineup? Last week’s scoreline may not have indicated it, but there wasn’t a significant hole in the lineup Jay Heaps unleashed against the Union. Actually, it was probably a first-choice XI north-to-south, and east-to-west. Yes, Jermaine Jones wasn’t spectacular stat-wise (65.6 percent passing accuracy), but Heaps was quite thrilled with his performance. After Jones, everyone else performed as expected, so it’s hard to envision any changes this weekend, especially against a woeful opponent. If there is going to be a change: Teal Bunbury may get the nod over Kelyn Rowe, who at times, didn’t seem to maximize his opportunities against the Union. Then again, no one really did last weekend.

3. Is Diego Fagundez ready to return to the scoresheet? If there’s an opportunity for the Homegrown talent to get back in gear offensively before the playoffs arrive, then Saturday’s probably the game to do it. Actually, it’s definitely the game to do it. The Fire have surrendered 13 goals in their last five (all losses). This actually isn’t a terrible stat in context as they haven’t played defense since June. Plus, if the soccer gods have any sense of humor (and we know they do), then Revolution supporters could see another another instance of Jon Busch Face. And who better than Fagundez to do the honors again?

4. Should we be concerned about the recent hiccups? Yes and no. In the Revolution’s defense, their last two games have seen them suffer some awful luck. It was deflection city in Montreal while a backup keeper stole the show last weekend. A couple of favorable deflections in both games, and the locals’ unbeaten streak is alive and well at 10, the playoff berth is already collecting dust, and Donnie Smith gets his annual start on Saturday. On the other side of the coin: the Impact and Union are both beatable teams. Historically, they’re both sides the Heaps Era Revolution should be putting away down stretch. The fact that they showed virtually no fight in Montreal, and couldn’t score from the run of play against the Union are causes for concern. But both issues are correctable. Plus, unlike the majority of their peers, the Revolution are fully healthy, so it’s too early to hit the panic button.

5. Is this another trap game? It shouldn’t be. Unlike the Union, who actually had something to play for (other than the first overall pick in next year’s draft), the Fire are essentially playing out the string. Yes, all that’s left for them to play for is pride, paychecks, and pulling the rug from under their playoff-bound opponents. Jerks. In other words, they’ll be a stubborn side on Saturday, especially at home. We saw them manage to get a point from the Revolution back in July, even if it took a dubious penalty call for them to do it. But this is a game that the Revolution should take maximum points from with relative ease. Heck, even a slightly embarrassing draw wouldn’t be terrible. But anything less, and it may be time to call into question this team’s collective mettle given the aforementioned recent stumbles.

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