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Familiar foes renew playoff rivalry
by Ridge Mahoney, October 30th, 2009 6:45AM
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[MLS PLAYOFF PREDICTION] For the fifth straight year, the Chicago Fire and the New England Revs meet in the playoffs with both teams missing key players because of injuries.

NEW ENGLAND (11-10-9) vs. CHICAGO (11-7-12), 2 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Espanol

The Revs -- deprived of Taylor Twellman for nearly the entire season and Steve Ralston for the past month - have scored only 33 goals, the fewest of eight playoff teams. Yet at home, they outscored opponents, 22-11, while posting a solid 7-4-4 record. They lost at home, 1-0, to the Crew, late in the season, yet reversed that scoreline on the final day of the season in Columbus with a Jeff Larentowicz free kick to book an eighth straight playoff appearance. Can they use the speed of forward Kheli Dube (eight goals) to get past Chicago in a series that might only feature a goal or two?

In their two regular-season meetings, the teams played 0-0 and 1-1 ties, with the goals coming from Fire defender Wilman Conde and New England's Mr. Everything of 2009, Shalrie Joseph. That speaks not only to the value of Joseph, who led the team in scoring with eight goals and eight assists, but the Revs' success at containing Chicago's attack, which in three October games scored only one goal, and that was an own goal. Brian McBride led the team with just seven goals. The Fire's defense may be strengthened by the return of left back Gonzalo Segares, who hasn't played since early August because of a sprained MCL, and Conde, bothered by a hip contusion.
Prediction: Revs 1, Fire 1.


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