The last time the Chicago Fire bagged a victory at Gillette Stadium, a third-minute goal by Quincy Amarikwa - his sixth of the season - and Sean Johnson's 84th-minute save to deny Chris Tierney on a penalty kick secured all three points for the visitors in a 1-0 win on July 12, 2014. Since then, the Men in Red have yet to walk away victorious on their travels, a dry spell spanning 14 MLS regular season matches.
With two games in hand on their longtime Eastern Conference rival, the result will surely be etched in the minds of the nine current Men in Red who played their part as the Fire travel to Foxborough to face 2014 MLS Cup finalist New England Revolution. Saturday's regular-season meeting (6:30 p.m. CT on CSN) will mark the 50th all-time between the sides.
While New England aims to regroup following a late 2-0 collapse against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park, Frank Yallop is hoping to keep his players on an even keel after throwing away a 2-1 lead last Saturday, falling 3-2 at the hands of Orlando City SC.
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"We were all shocked last week where I felt we should have won the game," said Yallop after training Thursday. "Two (losses) in a row, but every team is in the same boat in our league; no one's running away with it.
"We've got a couple of games in hand on the teams ahead of us. We've just got to start to realize that we can win games; we've played well enough to win. It's pretty close, and I've liked what I've seen going forward. It's just the individual and collective things late in games that's really hurt us."
Three of the previous five matches have seen the ninth-placed Fire squander leads, dating back to late drama in the 2-2 draw versus New York City FC in the Bronx on May 15. The latest two-game stretch that's seen the Men in Red come up empty-handed involved shipping a combined six goals at D.C. United and at home to Orlando.
As David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike continue to hit form - accounting for five of the Men in Red's eight goals in the previous four matches - the materialization and potency of Yallop's strikeforce is reverberating through the league as MLS sides struggle to keep the Designated Players' pace in check. But with a fixture against Jay Heaps' outfit looming and the danger posed by Teal Bunbury, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, Charlie Davies and Juan Agudelo, the second-year head coach is calling for more solidarity and coherence on the defensive front.
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"They have a lot of movement in their team; they don't really have static players, so we've got to stay in our good team shape," Yallop said. "If we could have put a couple of halves together in our away performances - D.C., New York and Columbus in the second half - we'd be fine. But we've got to put 90 minutes together and that's the hard part. It's similar to hockey: you play well in the first period, but it doesn't really matter. You've got to play well for three periods and it's the same with soccer: two halves.
"We have to have good shape because they are a good side and they create chances. We've got to be disciplined, be in good shape and make sure we defend correctly as a unit, everybody from the forwards to the goalkeeper."
Without Accam (Ghana), Shaun Maloney (Scotland) and Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago) - all away on international duty - the defensive and attacking onus will rest on the shoulders of some new faces as the Fire seek to dissolve the Revolution's unbeaten record at home. Despite going winless in their last six matches, New England hasn't lost at Gillette Stadium since last July.
"There will be some guys that haven't played for a little bit playing (on Saturday)," Yallop added. "You've got to keep the majority of the team that's done well for you. In performances, you don't change everybody because we've conceded a couple of goals that have been - if you look at the goals we have conceded over the last four or five games - not just because of one guy. It's been a combination of things.
"We've just got to keep going, stay positive, and turn it around. We're still right there in the hunt. It's a big game on Saturday and we're looking forward to it."