Revolution ready for reversal of results vs. Fire

The New England Revolution will be hungry for revenge when they visit the Chicago Fire on Saturday at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

New England dropped all three regular-season meetings with Chicago a season ago, including a 4-1 blowout in the most recent matchup on Aug. 5. The losses proved costly as the Revolution narrowly missed the playoffs by five points.

This season, New England (6-4-4) is looking to bounce back. The Revolution have 22 points in their first 14 games and will try to maintain their spot in the upper half of the standings with a win over their longtime rival.

Chicago (5-7-2) has not fared as well with 17 points in 14 games. It sits on the outside looking in for the playoff race.

Yet Revolution coach Brad Friedel is anything but comfortable after a 3-2 loss at Louisville City FC. The loss eliminated New England from U.S. Open Cup competition and drew angry comments from Friedel afterward about the players’ effort.

“You always have to match or better the energy levels of your opposition,” Friedel said to the team’s official website. “Then you can let the better soccer prevail. … Each and every day, you owe it to yourself as a player to bring the energy. It’s not for somebody else to corral it with the group.

“It is a bare-minimum requirement to work hard when you play soccer. The best players in the world, the most technically gifted players in the world, they all work hard. Every single one of them. You can never just stroll out onto the field and expect to get results.”

The Revolution have not enjoyed too many road trips to Chicago, where they are 5-16-8 in franchise history.

The Fire are playing with more confidence after edging the Columbus Crew on penalty kicks to advance in the U.S. Open Cup. Goalkeeper Richard Sanchez made several key saves in the penalty kick shootout as Chicago advanced to the Round of 16.

“I think it is good for us to get this win in the Open Cup and very important for our club,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic told the team’s website. “This very important competition gives us more confidence to move on not only in the next round, but in the next couple of games, the next stretch of games we have at home and on the road.”

Chicago’s top scorer is Nemanja Nikolic, who has six goals. Aleksandar Katai and Alan Gordon are tied for second place on the team with four goals apiece.

“I am happy because of the goals,” Nikolic told the team’s site. “I am happy that I don’t feel any more problem with the ankles. It’s been bothering me a couple of weeks, but the medical staff did a very good job last week, so now I feel OK.”

New England is led in scoring by forward Teal Bunbury, who has eight goals. Cristian Penilla (five goals) and Diego Fagundez (four goals) are next on the club.

Chicago is 3-4-1 at home this season. New England is 1-2-2 on the road.