Ahead of a big game like this, it’s always good to get a feel for the opponent.
Luckily for us, Jonathan Sigal from the Bent Musket was kind enough to shed some light on the Revolution ahead of tonight’s game. He talks about their motivation for this contest, their recent struggles and then provides a ridiculous prediction that will not come true.
As a fan, how do you feel the team should weigh this game against the difficult playoff battle they are in? Would having an Open Cup final looming in September distract from a playoff push?
Sigal: With my journalism hat still on, I think the Revs need to invest all their resources in an Open Cup run. They're two victories away from lifting a trophy, and many forget that piece of silverware comes with a berth in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. The semifinal stage is also where teams typically buckle down, and the Revs would be foolish to take this game lightly.
As for a playoff push, New England’s chances are pretty much a toss up right now. They’re realistically looking at the fifth or sixth seed, and frankly just don’t have the team cohesion to vault much higher than that. With all that in mind, if I’m Jay Heaps, I’m not really worried about any playoff distractions. That front will either take care of itself or it won’t, and the focus should be on winning a trophy in the here and now.
New England has struggled recently. What is the main reason for the struggles and do you see it turning around anytime soon?
Sigal: The Revs’ front office genuinely felt acquiring Kei Kamara was going to push them over the proverbial hurdle and into the Eastern Conference’s upper echelon. The only problem, though, was that getting Kamara from Columbus Crew SC didn’t address New England’s biggest problem: defense.
The stats don’t lie, either. New England boasts the worst goal differential in the league (-11) and is tied with New York City FC for the worst goals against total (40). It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize how dismal those two metrics are, and you’re just not going to win many MLS games if you’re consistently leaking in two or three goals.
There was some hope when encouraging defensive performances surfaced before and after the Copa America break, but those sentiments quickly fizzled out. Things are nervy in the defensive end for the boys in red, white and blue, and unless something drastic comes about, that won’t change in the near future.
What is your prediction for the game?
Sigal: Despite New England’s struggles as of late, I think they pull off the win on Tuesday night. They’re hosting an Open Cup semifinal that’s broadcasted nationally on ESPN2, and the 2016 season's trials and tribulations go out the window in this tournament. After all, it’s called the “Magic of the Open Cup” for a reason.
I’m predicting a 3-1 win for New England, with Lee Nguyen (2) and Kamara (1) snagging the goals for the home side. As for Chicago’s tally, it’ll arise from David Accam. His pace has tormented the Revs in past games.