BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Remember Major League Soccer?
MLS has taken a back seat to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but the Chicago Fire have not gone away. They travel to the east coast to take on the New England Revolution on Sunday.
The Fire (3-3-5) had a little more than a two-week hiatus from league play, but they have been training and hope to make a heavier impact starting with Eastern Conference foe New England (3-7-2).
"We're starting out fresh," Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. "It's a new season for us and we need to be more consistent than we have been."
Chicago currently is in the middle of the pack in the East, so by no means should there be any immediate concern about making up for some disappointing early outcomes. But the Fire players are well aware that they need to improve when it comes to the momentary lapses they have had.
"Everybody understands the issues," Fire forward Brian McBride said. "What we need to do is play better and be consistent."
"It's up to the players," Nyarko said. "The coaches can say all they want. It's up to us to actually do it on the field, and it's just that discipline, that concentration. We need to hold ourselves responsible."
Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos continually is reinforcing this element because Chicago has dropped some key potential points. Particularly in the Fire's most recent match against the Colorado Rapids, a second-half stoppage-time lapse resulted in a 2-2 draw and only one point instead of a three-point home victory.
"Communication is very important," de los Cobos said. "All the time, I'm talking with the players. They need to learn that this is their profession. They need to take care of this situation. Communication gives you the opportunity to stay alert in games. I tell them the points that we miss or we lost, they're never returning. ... These next three points on the road this Sunday, we need to take them."
New England officially announced earlier in the week that Taylor Twellman is out for the season because of his ongoing battle to recover from a concussion sustained nearly two years ago. The Revs are used to playing without him, though. And New England, led by midfielder Shalrie Joseph, typically has a knack for making up for a slew of injuries.
"I think they're always a very organized team," McBride said. "[Revs head coach] Steve Nicol has them playing for each other every game. They're very hard workers. We need to make sure we out-work them and take our chances."
John's status uncertain: De los Cobos said Thursday following training that it was highly unlikely that forward Collins John will be available for Sunday's match. John is not on the MLS Injury Report, but he missed training Thursday and the Fire organization still is not divulging the exact reason for John's continual health setbacks. The offseason signing has one goal and one assist through nine league games, four as a starter.