[PREVIEW]In kicking off its 2008 broadcast schedule with a doubleheader, ESPN2 couldn't do much better than trot out a double feature, complete with heroes and villains and subplots and themes, linked by a live intermission.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco and the Fire host New England in the first game (8 p.m. ET) at Toyota Park, after which David Beckham and the Galaxy welcome the reborn San Jose Earthquakes to Home Depot Center (10:30 p.m.). The 4 ½ hour telecast will feature teams of announcers at both sites, plus co-hosts Rob Stone and Julie Foudy bracketing the games from an HDC location. Foudy will also work as sideline reporter for the second game.
Chicago was seconds away last week from taking a road loss at Real Salt Lake before Blanco drove a partial clearance into the net to tie the match, 1-1, earning the Fire a point it hardly deserved. RSL's fleet of mobile attackers opened up gaps repeatedly and a goal should have come long before Fire defender Bakary Soumare drilled a low Dema Kovalenko cross into his own net with 20 minutes to play.
Fabian Espindola's runs, dribbles and crosses served up good balls that Yura Movsisyan and Espindola himself couldn't convert. A chippy, bitter match boiled over several times, with Blanco often at the epicenter, but his strike left RSL chafing at a win squandered. His shot was half of the total put by Chicago on the RSL frame despite Coach Denis Hamlett using four forwards: Chad Barrett and Tomasz Frankowksigot the starting assignments, Andy Herron and forward Calen Carr came on as substitutes.
The Revs are shorthanded with Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston sidelined by injuries, yet they took Houston apart last week and Chicago may suffer the same fate if it can't derail young Gambians Sainey Nyassi and Kenny Mansally, shackle Shalrie Joseph, and contain Adam Cristman. Yet the Fire beat the Revs in both meetings last season at Toyota Park and surely they can't play as well as they did at home in demolishing the Dynamo.
Or can they?