Since acquiring Mike Magee, the Chicago Fire have been climbing the Eastern Conference standings. They earned another win their last time out despite being without Magee, and now they'll get him back - possibly along with another new face in the midfield.
Chicago expects to see both the return of Magee and the debut of Arevalo Rios on Saturday night when it visits the New England Revolution.
The Fire (9-9-4), one point ahead of the Revolution for sixth place, started the season with an abysmal 2-7-2 stretch, including a 1-0 home defeat to New England on March 9. But since Magee came over in a trade from Los Angeles and debuted for the Fire on June 2, they are 7-2-2, with MLS' most wins in that span.
Magee missed last Saturday's match against Montreal due to right calf tightness, but Chicago managed a 2-1 victory and went to 3-0-1 over its last four while outscoring opponents 9-4. Magee's 14 goals - eight of which have come for the Fire - are tied for the league lead with Vancouver's Camilo.
Manager Frank Klopas told the team's official website he expects Magee to play Saturday, while Patrick Nyarko will likely remain out due to concussion symptoms.
However, Chicago could see Rios' MLS debut after announcing his signing as a designated player Wednesday. Coming over from Palermo of Italy's Serie B with a multitude of international club experience, Rios has also made 46 appearances for his country, helping Uruguay to a fourth-place finish in the 2010 World Cup.
He's expected to play, should his Visa and transfer be processed in time.
"Arevalo is a midfielder with a wealth of international experience," club president of soccer operations Javier Leon told the club's official website. "He provides another talented option for our midfield and will help us make the push for the second half of the season."
New England (8-9-6), meanwhile, comes in trending in the opposite direction with losses in four of six, including back-to-back shutout defeats after a 3-0 final at Sporting Kansas City last Saturday.
The Revolution are trying to avoid a third straight home loss for the first time since July 14-Aug. 12, 2012.
"We have to have confidence," Kelyn Rowe, the team leader in assists with six, told the Revolution's official website. "We're a good enough team to know we can score every game. We can score multiple goals every game. For me, it's just that final ball and that final finish needs to be better."
New England will have to overcome two disciplinary suspensions. Dimitry Imbongo's elbow to Sporting KC's Oriol Rosell earned him a second yellow card for the game, while Andy Dorman received a straight red card for a hard foul in the 86th minute.
Chicago is 8-18-4 all-time at New England and has been shut out four times in the last seven meetings there while going 1-3-3.