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