|Matchup||Chicago Fire (11-5-5, 38 pts.) vs. New England Revolution (7-9-5, 26 pts.)|
|Date||Saturday, Aug. 5 • 7:30 p.m. CT|
|Location||Bridgeview Ill. • Toyota Park|
|TV||CSN Chicago Plus (Pregame Show: 7:00 p.m.)|
|Spanish Radio||Univision América 1200 (WRTO)|
|Injuries, Suspensions, Lineup Projection||MLS Match Preview|
At long last, the Chicago Fire return to Toyota Park on Saturday night following the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup break and a stretch of three straight matches on the road. Coming off back-to-back one-goal road defeats, the Fire are hosting a New England Revolution side that has won two straight but is already 0-2-0 against a high-flying Fire side in 2017. Ahead of Saturday night's replay, here are a few key facts, faces and figures to keep in mind:
Key number: 23
This week's key number is 23 for two reasons. First, Toyota Park has become a fortress for Veljko Paunovic and his men in 2017. The Fire boast 9-0-1 record at home so far this season, and a league-best +23 goal differential when playing in front of the home supporters. That number is a huge credit to the Fire defensive unit, who have conceded only four home goals the entire season. Second, No. 23 Nemanja Nikolic has been held goalless for three straight matches since a brace back on July 1. You can bet there are few Fire players more excited to return home than the MLS Golden Boot leader, who has scored 13 of his 16 goals at Toyota Park this season.
Matchup to watch: Johan Kappelhof vs. Kei Kamara
Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof was chosen by head coach Veljko Paunovic to represent the league in Wednesday night's 2017 MLS All-Star Game at Soldier Field. Kappelhof started and played 45 minutes in the exhibition against Real Madrid, and figures to cap his busy week with a matchup against New England target man Kei Kamara. Kamara is coming off a brace in his side's 3-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Union last weekend, good for three goals in his last two games. Kappelhof's ability to contain the streaking Kamara inside the Fire 18-yard-box could go a long way in determining this match's outcome.
One Big Question: Can the Fire resume their home form after over a month away?
The Fire haven't had a home match since extending their run to eight straight home wins with a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 1. In the time since, they've had a two-week break for the Gold Cup, played three matches on the road, and sent four players to the 2017 MLS All-Star Game. When kickoff comes around Saturday night, picking up where they left off in early July and extending their unbeaten 2017 run at home to 11 matches will be key in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference playoff race.
Sizing Up The Series
Chicago is 25-21-11 all-time vs. New England in the regular season, with wins in each of the last three meetings and four of the last six.
Quote of the Week:
That's Fire forward Michael de Leeuw, who has every reason to feel confident going into Saturday's matchup. The Revolution enter the weekend winless on the road (0-7-3) in 2017, with a goal differential of -13 in 10 matches away from home. Following a 3-0 victory over Jay Heaps' side at Toyota Park in April and a 2-1 win at Gillette Stadium in June, the Fire will go for a clean 2017 sweep of the Revs on Saturday night.