Bridgeview, IL – Chicago was irrelevant through 24 matches in Major League Soccer this season, but after securing just two wins in that run, the Fire have won three of their last four to enter the playoff race.
Although Chicago still has work to do, the Fire (5-8-15) are six points shy of the last of the league's 10 postseason berths entering the weekend.
"I think now is the time for the team to get strong. We've progressively been getting better and the result have been getting better, but now is the time to turn it up and get three points every time out," Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson said.
New England and Chicago sit just three points apart at the bottom of the East, but the Fire are in much better shape with the home game this weekend and two games in hand on the Revolution.
"We have six games left and we need all six, that's our attitude. ... We can't afford anymore ties or losses and I think everybody understands that and is ready to get after these final six games," Johnson said.
Chicago earned a 1-1 draw at Gillette Stadium in June against New England, and has not lost to the Revolution in league play since early in 2007. New England did win a SuperLiga match last year in Chicago.
For the Fire to push their unbeaten streak against the Revolution to 10 games in league play, it will have to adjust to the absence of Cory Gibbs. He picked up a red card in Chicago's last match, a 3-2 win over Chivas USA.
"We will miss Cory with the red card," Fire interim manager Frank Klopas said. "He brings so much leadership on the field. We have to work through this week and prepare for the next match at home."
Even with Gibbs off the field, Chicago picked up the three points when Dominic Oduro scored his 10th goal of the season - the first Chicago player to hit the mark since Damani Ralph had 11 in 2004 - with five minutes remaining.
New England is still alive in the playoff chase as well, but a loss could send the Revolution into October without a chance.
"This is our season," New England Darrius Barnes said. "Our season is on the line, pretty much. We know we have to pretty much win out. Every game means something for us right now.
"Chicago's going to be a difficult place to go, but they're right there, neck and neck with us. Pretty much, the winner of that game is going to have a chance to go on and make a push for the playoffs."
After a 3-0 loss to the Portland Timbers last week, New England is faced with must-win matches for the rest of the season. One key for the Revolution is not allowing the first goal, as they have the worst record when conceding first.
The Revolution are 0-10-2 when allowing the first goal, but eight teams in the league are winless when surrendering the opening goal.
"The early goal hurts us, from that point on we're just chasing the game and it just kind of takes the air out of everybody when we give up a goal like that," Barnes said.