2019 MLS Preview — Chicago Fire (2-4-4) vs. New England Revolution (2-2-7)

Coming off one of their worst losses in club history, the New England Revolution have a quick turnaround in their bid to bounce back Wednesday night when they face the Chicago Fire.

The Revolution (2-2-7) dropped to last in the Eastern Conference following a 6-1 mauling administered by the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. They actually played well in the first half and were perhaps unlucky to be only level at 1-1, but a goal two minutes after halftime opened the floodgates as Philadelphia scored five unanswered goals.

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It was the eighth loss in club history by five or more goals and the worst since their franchise-record 7-0 pummeling by Atlanta United in September 2017 in which New England became the first team in MLS history to fail to register a shot on target.

“Honestly, I can’t really tell you what happened,” captain Michael Mancienne said post-match. “They got the second goal early, then they got the third, and after that we kind of crumbled to be honest. … Even at 3-1 we have to realize we’re still in the game and not concede more goals than that.

“That second half was just not us. I’m just annoyed and frustrated, all the boys are. We have a massive game coming up and we have to pick ourselves up quick and be ready for the next game. We can’t dwell on this.”

New England will be closer to full strength for this contest as defender Jalil Anibaba and midfielder Brandon Bye will be available for selection after serving red-card bans last match. The Revolution have conceded an Eastern Conference-worst 25 goals, ahead of only Colorado (27).

Chicago (2-4-4) avoided an empty three-match road swing by becoming the first team to leave Banc of California with a point after frustrating Western Conference leader Los Angeles FC into a scoreless draw Saturday. Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic had the play of the game on the defensive end as his goal-line clearance in the first half negated LAFC’s best scoring chance of the match, and Veljko Paunovic’s side maintained their shape to claim the draw.

“When you come into the locker room after the game, when you see that you actually feel a little bit mad because you could win the game and you’re not satisfied with what you got,” Paunovic told the club’s official website “But (the point is) something at the end of the day that you’re taking away from here.”

Paunovic made an interesting tweak to his first XI, using winger Przemyslaw Frankowski at right back in his first match since March 30, and the Poland international did well to neutralize LAFC’s top scoring threats Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi.

Frankowski, though, may be needed more forward in this match considering the Fire have gone 280 minutes without a goal since Aleksandar Katai capped the scoring in a 4-1 win at Colorado on April 20. Chicago has claimed eight of its 10 points at home, scoring nine of its 12 goals in those five matches (2-2-1).

The draw also marked the Fire debut of defender Francisco Calvo, who was acquired from Minnesota United on Friday. The one-time talisman of the Loons entered as a substitute in the 79th minute.

The teams played to a pair of draws last year as Chicago extended its unbeaten streak in the series to six matches (4-2-0) since a 1-0 loss in July 2016.

(Nico Gaitan photo courtesy Chicago Fire official Twitter account)
(Juan Caicedo photo courtesy New England Revolution official Twitter account)

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