Know Your Enemy: New England Revolution

See that over there in Bridgeview Bob? Look carefully. Yes, that's a soccer stadium. (photo: espnfc.com)

See that over there in Bridgeview Bob? Look carefully now. You may need to remove your shades. Yes, that’s right. It’s a soccer-specific stadium. (photo: espnfc.com)

OTF’s Stephen Mangat is back to preview the Revs and tell you why Paul Revere was a snitch…

Tough first week for the Chicago Fire, but one game does not a season make. So eyes forward, eyes on the prize, clear eyes full hearts can’t lose, private eyes are watching you, and these eyes have seen a lot of love but they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.

PLAY OUR MUSIC!!!

It’s the season opener for New England, so none of us are too sure what to expect from this group. If last season is any indication, they will suck. Also, if last season is any indication, Chicago should be worried as they only took three points out of nine from the Revs in 2012. And finally, if last season is any indication, manager Jay Heaps will turn the personal intensity dial up to eleven and go ape-shit on the sidelines.

No disrespect to Capt. Kirk.

Tactics

More than likely, Heaps will have his Revs in a 4-4-2, with Jerry Bengston leading the line and a support striker accompanying him. The midfield will have a creator, a more defensive player, and two outside guys who will attack. Again, nothing special here.

Goalkeeper

In goal will be Matt Reis. He’s been in the league for ages and has been with New England for nine years. He’s a classic American goalie: big, strong, great shot stopper, commands the box, and likes to sit back a bit. If the New England defense plays a high line, there should be space between Reis and the defense.

Defense

Expect new (and big) guy Jose Goncalves to start in the middle. Speedy Kevin Alston will probably be on the outside right. Not sure who will be on the left. AJ Soares will be back (and carded) as will Stephen McCarthy, I imagine. Also, watch #1 overall pick Andrew Farrell and judge him – because that’s what we do.

We’re judging you Andrew.

Midfield

Now it starts to get interesting. Last season the Revolution were impotent. This year they seem to have the players to provide much more firepower from the middle. Lee Nguyen should play on the outside and, while dangerous, he blows hot and cold. Kalifa Cisse looks to be the new Shalrie Joseph and will do the dirty work. Juan Toja was a fantastic creator in his previous MLS stint (w/Dallas). Kelyn Rowe is a year older and showed potential last year. Andy Dorman is a direct, goal-scoring attacking midfielder who was great in his first tour with New England a few years ago. All five of the aforementioned will probably see significant minutes and could certainly cause problems for Chicago. Saer Sene is injured, so no need to worry about him.

Definitely Saer Sene’s dog.

Attack

USA-killer Bengston will lead the line and Diego Fagundez will (most likely) support him. Bengston looked good last season in spurts and this will be his first full MLS season after missing much of the last one due to the Olympics. He’s a big guy with speed and has a good touch. Fagundez is an 18-year-old homegrown who played in 20 games last year (mostly as a sub). He’s small, quick, and tricky. Fire fans may remember Diego’s dagger-like goal during Chicago’s late-season loss at Gillette Stadium in 2012. While hardly a marquee duo, Bengston and Fagundez are not to be taken lightly – especially with the expected improvement in service from the midfield. Former Fire man and veteran Chad Barrett is a physical, industrious option up top too.

How Can Chicago Win?

1. Get things together and win the midfield. The Fire had serious issues with cohesiveness last weekend and smart movement by Los Angeles caused major problems with Chicago’s shape. Joel Lindpere, Jeff Larentowicz and Chris Rolfe need to work together to win and keep the ball. Rolfe should be able to find space between New England’s midfield and defense, help create space for the other two in the middle, and find outside runners Dilly Duka and Patrick Nyarko.

2. Pass the ball to teammates. Simple stuff. And let’s be real for a second. Manager Frank Klopas can’t employ sophisticated tactics if his players can’t execute the simplest of skills. If Chicago’s defenders can’t retain the ball, then New England will sit back and squeeze space.

3. Start quickly. Expectations were very high for the Fire a week ago, and the beating they endured in LA was the shock result of MLS round one. A poor start (and result) versus the Revs will only serve to exacerbate fans’ anxieties. As Shakespeare wrote, “Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises.” The Fire need to come out swinging – for their sake and that of their fans’.

At least hit somebody, kid!

Best of luck, Fire fans. This one should be pretty straightforward. That said, the 15th is coming soon and we all know what the Bard wrote about the Ides of March. Enjoy the weekend and the match. See you next week for a team that I’ve actually seen play this year…

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL!!!!

OTF’s chief scout Stephen Mangat rides his pig to work three times a week. Follow him @smangat12

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