The Chicago Fire could have an easy assignment in their first game without captain Logan Pause based on their history of home domination against the New England Revolution.
The Fire look to extend their home unbeaten streak in this series to 10 games Saturday night and push the Revolution's winless run to seven.
Pause will miss four to six weeks after suffering two broken ribs and pneumothorax in a collision in last Sunday's 3-1 victory over Philadelphia. The midfielder has played in every game this season.
"Some of us older guys are going to have to step up a little bit and fill in where Logan's leaving off right now," midfielder Chris Rolfe said. "Obviously in the game it's going to be a different story as well because he's the guy who's keeping us all organized and working hard for everybody. It's a big loss for the team and hopefully we can overcome it."
Coach Frank Klopas has indicated that Michael Videira or Daniel Paladini will replace Pause on Saturday.
Chicago (11-7-5) is 8-0-1 in its last nine MLS home games against New England (6-12-5), which is 0-5-1 overall since beating New York on July 8. The Revolution also own one of the league's worst road marks at 1-8-2, and are well aware of their past struggles at Toyota Park.
"It's always tough, we've had some classic games in the past against Chicago," goalkeeper Matt Reis said.
New England won 2-0 at home over Chicago on June 2 in the lone meeting this year to snap a 10-game winless run in league play in the series. The Fire, however, have since added Designated Players Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald.
"It feels like almost a different season since the last time we played them," Rolfe said. "So we have a different group now, a whole different locker-room mentality so I think it's going to be a good challenge for us."
The Revolution have scored twice during their winless run and were shut out for the second straight contest Sunday, losing 1-0 to expansion Montreal.
New England is second in the league with 128 shots on goal, but its 26 goals represent the league's fifth-worst total.
"I think our youth has shown a little bit," defender Chris Tierney said. "The good news is we are all picking up experience this year, we have a young team, I think it's promising for the future and even for the rest of this year."
Jerry Bengtson logged 62 minutes Sunday in his first action since July 14 after the forward was with Honduras for the Olympics. The Revolution are hoping he will produce a better effort this weekend.
"He looked a little tired," coach Jay Heaps told the Revolution's official website. "He's been in Honduras for the last four, five days."
Chicago is seeking its second three-game win streak of the year after Rolfe sandwiched two goals around the first MLS tally of German defender Arne Friedrich's career last weekend.
The Fire are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 38 points with a game in hand on the teams above them.
- New England
- Chris Rolfe