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JJ Bowl! ... ehh: NE v Fire, MLS #26, preview

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Improved Men in Red face the hot-again Revs in first matchup since the infamous 'blind draw'

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

When: Sunday September 7th at 6PM CST

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

Where to Watch: My50 Chicago, TWCSC Wisconsin

Hey, What Happened?

Who would have ever thought the Men in Red would be able to cool off the hottest team in the league? I didn't; I thought that the Fire were going to be overmatched in every part of the game when they hosted FC Dallas last Saturday night. For the second week in a row it was new signing, Robert Earnshaw, with the goal that helped bring home some points.

The game was actually bland with neither team creating attacking opportunities. Finally the Fire maintained an edge in the possession battle and it paid off when in the 83rd minute off of a broken down corner; Jeff Larentowicz was able to cross the ball in which Earnshaw was able to get his head on to redirect to the bottom corner of the net. The win keeps the Fire within sniffing distance of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Hey, What's Happening?

Tonight, the Fire travel to the northeast to take on the resurgent New England Revolution in a key Eastern Conference matchup. In two previous meetings this season, the sides played to a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park in April, then in July the Men in Red were able to steal away the 3 points at Foxborough despite being dominated all game long. What will happen this time? Will the Fire be able to keep up with the rest of the east? Will the Fire be able to steal another 3 points off of the dreaded field turf? Can we milk some drama out of the idea of 'vengeance for the blind draw?' No?

Hey, What Should Happen?

Razvan Cocis versus Jermaine Jones. This is one key matchup to watch for. With the Fire's summer target, Jones, having gone to the Revs in controversial fashion, the Fire have come to rely on Cocis to shore up the center of the field since Larentowicz has been moved back to the center back position. The Fire's midfielder along with the other starting mids will have to be on their game in this one because the Revolution midfield is one of the best in the league. With creative players like Daigo Kobayashi and possible league MVP Lee Nguyen along with wingers Diego Fagundez and Teal Bunbury helping in the attack. Now you put Jones right behind those midfielders to clean up any mess and help direct play that is one midfield that can dominate any team when they are on their game. Cocis is going to have to have his best game yet in a Fire uniform in order to disrupt the Revs attack.

On the opposite side the Fire's attacking players are going to have to deal with Jermaine Jones. He brings loads of experience from playing in the top leagues in Europe and he has the skill to be one of the most dominate holding mids in the league. Players like Amarikwa, Shipp, and Nyassi are going to have to try to out match him if they plan on having any chance to put anything even remotely close to goal. With Jones playing right in front of Jose Goncalves and AJ Soares that makes a defense that had trouble keeping the ball out of the net that much better and in the last 6 games they have improved by only allowing 4 goals across that span.

To me the key Fire player for this game will be Harry Shipp. Harry has not been on the score sheet since July 19, when he added an assist versus Philly; he hasn't found the back of the net since July 2 when his second-half goal sealed a share of the points versus a 10-man TFC team. Neither Robert Earnshaw nor Mike Magee practiced leading up to the game, so it is unlikely either will feature. That leaves Shipp to going to have to be generate ideas going forward, most likely.

It's a lot to ask for from the rookie but he seems to thrive when he plays in the center of the midfield leading the attack. During his second-half appearance versus FC Dallas last week, the thing I noticed was that he was roaming around the field like a No.10 does and he was always calling for the ball. It seems that he wants to be the guy that is responsible for creating offense. Why not give him that opportunity here and see how he shines. We have no one else on the roster that is capable of doing what he did so well while playing for Notre Dame.

Hey What's Going to Happen?

Away game versus a team that's on the rise and it's being played on the Fire's arch nemesis, field turf. The Fire will probably be short handed with attacking options and New England has only given up 4 goals in their last 6 games.  The only thing that may save the Fire in this game is if their defense steps up and carries the team. I see this one finishing 2-0 in favor of the Revs. I just see the Fire losing the possession battle and not being able to create many chances that would help them take the 3 points back to ChicagoJ.