With the Fire starting off their second (and last) bye week of the season today, I thought it would be good to update the MLS playoff picture for you guys. So, with that, here we go...
This weekend, the Galaxy (44 points, 2 games remaining) and the Dynamo (44 points, 2 games remaining) became the second and third teams, respectively, to clinch a 2009 playoff spot. The two Western Conference sides join the Crew (46 points, 3 games remaining) as teams to have clinched a playoff berth.
Speaking of the Crew, they unexpectedly lost a home game this past weekend, falling to Seattle 1-0 on Saturday night. Reigning MVP Guillermos Barros Schelotto missed what would have been an equalizing penalty kick in the 83rd minute. The loss, which ironically came at the hands of former Head Coach Sigi Schmid, snaps a 24-game home unbeaten streak for the Crew.
With the win, Seattle (2 games remaining) moves up to 41 points, good enough to pull even with both Chivas USA (4 games remaining) and the Fire (2 games left).
Rounding out the bottom of the playoff picture are Colorado (40 points, 2 games left) and New England (38 points, 3 games remaining), who played to a 1-1 draw this weekend.
So what do this weekend's results mean for the Fire? Well, to put it bluntly, it was bad. New England, who has a game in hand on the Fire, is nipping at Chicago's heels for the second seed in the East and the two sides' October 17th match (which is at New England...) looks like it will be a very important one - especially if New England is able to defeat Columbus this weekend.
Falling to third place in the East would obviously be bad news for the Fire. The consequences of a potential drop? Well, the team wouldn't receive home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs (though given the Fire's play at Toyota Park this year that could be a good thing...) and they would have to play a higher seed (and better/hotter team) in the opening round.
But despite the Fire possibly losing out on the East's second seed, I'm more concerned with the club's recent form. The Fire hasn't won in five games (a stretch that dates back to the side's August 23rd, 3-2, come from behind victory over the Rapids) and they've only picked up three points in the process. Simply put, the Fire is simply too talented of a team to finish the season behind the likes of New England (who have dealt with a ton of injuries this year) and Chivas USA (who simply don't have the personnel the Fire do). But if the Fire doesn't take their play up a notch, playoff positioning won't matter one bit. I mean, last time I checked, it doesn't matter what seed you have if you're not playing well enough to get past the first round...