Foxborough, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - The New England Revolution will hope to find their way back to a winning formula when they host Eastern Conference rivals Chicago Fire on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
The Revs got off to a flying start in the early portion of the season that saw the club rise as high as the top spot in the East, but Jay Heaps' team has come back down to Earth as of late, winless in their last three matches across all competitions.
The Revs topped the Rochester Rhinos to reach the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, but followed that up with a loss to Philadelphia at home in league play, a loss to Real Salt Lake on July 4, and another loss to Philadelphia last Tuesday -- this time in the Open Cup quarterfinals at PPL Park.
Against RSL, New England was sloppy defensively and gave up the lead in the 35th minute as Javier Morales converted a penalty kick after Darrius Barnes cleaned out Chris Schuler in the box.
But New England drew level two minutes later when Barnes rose above the RSL defense to head in Chris Tierney's free kick service from 28 yards out on an angle.
Real Salt Lake struck for the winner 25 minutes from time when Joao Plata scored another penalty kick after Tierney was yellow carded for a rash challenge in the box, resulting in a point to the spot from referee Allen Chapman.
"It's tough. I don't think that we played well in the first half - didn't play well enough to win the first half," Heaps said. "But I thought throughout the game we were pretty good and did a little bit better job, but a little bit cynical from the referee to give two penalties. It's a tough one."
"I thought we played well enough to get at least a point. We defended really well and had plenty of chances going forward," defender A.J. Soares said. "To get no points is super disappointing. I'm disappointed with both calls on the penalty kicks. It's a hard one to swallow because we didn't deserve to get no points."
Chicago, meanwhile, will be looking for just its third win of the season coming off a respectable 1-1 draw with the defending champions Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
Sporting struck first in the 33rd minute through Dominic Dwyer, but six minutes later the Fire equalized through Mike Magee, who got on the end of a nice, cutting ball from Alex on the left side of the penalty area and ripped it just inside the near post.
"I thought we played well -- an even game. I think we moved the ball well. It had been physical in the first 20 minutes of the match. We had a game plan to come in and try to do that and find little pockets and little holes and play in between the lines," Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. "I thought we did a great job, we just ran out of steam.
"We had a couple injuries. Alex was off at halftime, and Jhon (Kennedy Hurtado)'s got dizzy spells. So late in the game, when you want to make your subs make a difference, we couldn't do that. Credit to Kansas City, they really pushed and in the end could have won it, but I was proud of the way we hung in there. So we could win a few more games, but we can tie them for sure."