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Preview: New England Revolution at Chicago Fire
Time: 8:30 PM ET on Saturday, April 7th.
Location: Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL.
Television: TV 38 (Boston), CSN (Chicago), Direct Kick (Nation wide)
Radio: WRKO 680 AM (Boston), WRTO 1200 AM (Spanish - Chicago), www.RevolutionSoccer.net
Injuries of note (all injury listings are unofficial and based solely on information found from recent news reports):
Doubtful: Michael Parkhurst (shoulder), Daniel Hernandez (groin)
Probable: Shalrie Joseph (calf), Khano Smith (hamstring), Pat Noonan (sports hernia surgery)
Questionable: Pascal Bedrossian
New England: Joe Franchino (indefinite – personal matters)
New England (3-5-2) – Matt Reis; Avery John, James Riley, Jay Heaps; Khano Smith, Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Andy Dorman; Taylor Twellman; Adam Cristman
Chicago (3-5-2) – Matt Pickens; CJ Brown, Jim Curtin, Gonzalo Segares; Logan Pause, Chris Armas, Diego Gutierrez, Justin Mapp, Ivan Guerrero; Chris Rolfe, Chad Barrett
New England is kicking off the season after an offseason that saw them lose midfielders Clint Dempsey to Fulham FC of the English Premiership and Jose Cancela to league newcomers Toronto FC. While the Revs, coming off a disappointing penalty kick loss in the MLS Cup final, did not make any big name signings in the offseason, some of the rookies picked up in the Superdraft have shown promising signs. Rookie Adam Cristman, who looks set to start due in part to Pat Noonan lacking match fitness, led the team in both goals (5) and assists (4) during the preseason. Meanwhile, a strong preseason from Khano Smith looks to have earned him a starting spot at left midfield. The Revolution finished their preseason with a perfect 6-0-0 record.
Chicago similarly had failed to bring in any key players to bolster their squad that was eliminated in the first round of last year’s playoffs by New England. That all changed this week when the Fire announced the signing of Mexican playmaker Cuauhtemoc Blanco to a designated player contract. Blanco won’t join the team until July however. Pascal Bedrossian, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, looks set to play a bigger role this season, but another minor set back may keep him out of the opener. The Fire finished their preseason 5-8-1. While the Fire played better preseason competition than the Revs, they struggled to get wins against MLS opposition.
Prediction: Fire 1, Revolution 1