MLS Playoff Preview

MLS Playoff Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On November 8, 2007

Eastern conference rivals come together tonight on ESPN2, when the Chicago Fire take their play on the road to New England to face the Revs.

This match has a lot on the line, a trip to MLS Cup 2007 in Washington, DC. Both clubs know one another pretty darn well by now. Chicago got the better of the season series winning two to the Revs one. However the one game in New England was the one the Revs came away with a 3-1 victory over the Fire.

I love this matchup because their history is nearly 50-50 in the regular season and straight down the line in the playoffs, both clubs have won five games against the other in the playoffs so this one will split the difference.

New England is right where they need to be I think. They look to advance to their third straight MLS Cup, the forth in five years. Down the final stretch of the regular season, the New England Revolution allowed seven goals in three games. But they now sail into the this game tonight on the heels of back-to-back shutouts in the semifinal series against the New York Red Bulls.

Chicago will be playing the revenge card tonight. After the Revolution eliminated Chicago each of the last two years — including in a penalty shootout last year — the Fire are hoping their current hot streak continues. The Fire are unbeaten in their last 10 games, the final eight of the regular season then the two games (a win and a draw) against D.C. United in the semifinal series.

Again, this game is a tough call. I have to give the edge to New England at home though. Expect a really physical match tonight with plenty of cards and fouls all around. A few guys will be in danger of missing the MLS Cup if they get carded: for New England Shalrie Joseph, Khano Smith, Wells Thompson, Taylor Twellman; and for Chicago Matt Pickens, Gonzalo Segares.

Also keep and eye out for Justin Mapp, some reports say he is good to go but will he be 100% for the Fire tonight? I think that is a big question that Fire fans need to be concerned with. Mapp means more wing presence for the Fire and more trouble for the Revs.

Some may say that the Fire have the advantage from getting a couple more days of rest than the Revs, but I don’t buy into that one bit. Playoffs bring out the best players usually and I can bet with another trip to the MLS Cup on the line for the Revs that they will be good to go.

I like New England in this game based on their experience alone. They know what it takes to get to the MLS Cup and they will get back there again. I think winning the US Open Cup this season will really show that the Revs know how to get over the hump in big games. They know how to beat the Fire at home and in the post season. The thing that the Fire have going for them is their revenge factor, but I think in the end it will be close and probably even see some extra time.

WVH Prediction: New England 2, Chicago 1 (a.e.t.)