The Revolution (6-12-5, 23 points) will have to overcome their season-long road woes on Saturday against the Chicago Fire (11-7-5, 38 points) in order to snap a six-game winless streak.
So far this season, New England has claimed only a single victory (3-1 on March 31 at Los Angeles) in its 11 games (1-8-2) outside the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium, and are 0-6-2 in their last eight road contests. The Revs hope to end that run of road futility at Toyota Park.
That’s the hope, at least. Not only are the Revolution coming into a stadium they haven’t won in over six years, but they’re facing a team that hasn’t lost in nearly a month. Since their 1-0 loss to the Red Bulls, the Fire have put together a three-game unbeaten streak, and last week put a three-spot on Philadelphia thanks in large part to Chris Rolfe, who scored a pair of goals in the effort. The return of Rolfe, who starred for the Fire from 2005 to 2009, has steered the Fire back on track after a string of uninspiring performances earlier this season.
On the other side of the pitch, the Revolution are anxious to put an end to another embarrassing streak -- a 257-minute goal drought. And it’s precisely that lack of attacking prowess that’s kept them outside of the win column since early July. During their current six-game slide, the Revolution have scored only two goals, even after creating a number of chances to grab more. But chances are no longer good enough, especially for a club that continues to push the issue inside the final third with little success.
Yes, there may be more at stake for the Fire, who are currently in the midst of a playoff push. But this is a critical match for the Revs, too. So what will the guests have to do to break the hex?
1. Keep attacking. It’s been a frustrating run of futility, no doubt. But it does the Revs no good to sulk and rue their chances. Instead, the Revolution must continue to push forward. They cannot look back and ponder the missed opportunities. Instead, they have to attack as if every chance can find the back of the net.
2. Set the tempo. No doubt the road’s been unkind so far this season, but the Revolution have to forget that fact and play with the same confidence seen at home. More specifically, they have to establish their identity early. To do so, they’ll have to be smart with their passes, but they’ll also have to take a few risks. They have to be willing to send numbers forward at the risk of a counterattack. They have to press the Fire defenders.
3. Eliminate the egregious error. The big mistake has been the official downfall of the Revolution for the past five weeks. And against the Fire -- a team that’s shown themselves quite capable of pouncing on mistakes -- the Revolution simply cannot afford the same gaffes seen in recent weeks. There’s no room for poor cover and the casual defending, especially against a side as speedy as the Fire. The margin against a team that thrives in transition is minute this week.
If accountability is the name of the game under head coach Jay Heaps, then everyone penciled into the Revolution starting XI will be on a short leash. Mistakes must be eliminated. Chances must be cashed in. And maximum points must be earned if the Revolution are serious about salvaging the rest of their season.