The Fire don't return to full training until Wednesday ahead of the weekend re-match with Seattle Sounders. Seattle, however has a Champion's League match in Mexico against Monterrey on Wednesday night. The game is a must win since Chicago is now a full ten points behind Seattle for the eighth and final spot with two games still in hand. A loss at home on Saturday night could be the final nail in the coffin.
With seven matches remaining the Fire need to essentially run the table in order to have a realistic chance at qualifying for post season. Of course, given recent form that is not realistic in and of itself but I'll look at it anyway. Here's a rundown of each contender's remaining fixtures with possible outcomes.
Remaining Matches: Seattle, @San Jose, @FC Dallas, Columbus, Kansas City, DC, @Chivas
If I'm sipping red Kool Aid and believe that the Fire will hold true to my original predictions I'll assume that the team can finish the season on a 5-1-1 run. Not gonna happen? Okay, bear with me here.......those results would give them a total of 42 points.
Remaining Matches: @Chicago, Toronto, @Kansas City, Chivas, @Houston
For the sake of this exercise I'll go ahead and predict home wins against TFC and Chivas. The Sounders finish the year on a 2-1-2 run and a total of 44 points. Of course, that's also assuming the Fire win on Saturday.
Remaining Matches:@Real Salt Lake, Philadelphia, DC, @FC Dallas, @Los Angeles, Real Salt Lake
If the Rapids have a nightmare end to the season and lose their last three matches to a trio of the top contenders in the West they can still finish ahead of the Fire with home wins over DC United and Philadelphia. Let's go with 2-4-0 for Colorado and a season ending points total of 43.
Remaining Matches: @Toronto, Chicago, @Columbus, @DC, Houston, Chivas, @Kansas City
The upcoming match with the Fire is pivotal in order to keep hope alive. Of course, that's assuming the Fire actually win a home game and beat Seattle on Saturday night. Unfortunately the Earthquakes have three winnable games against DC, Houston, and Chivas still on the docket. I'm assuming the Fire can coax a draw in San Jose. The Quakes finish the season 3-2-2 on 47 points.
Remaining Matches: San Jose, @Seattle, @Chivas, Columbus, @DC
The Reds did something the Fire could not this past weekend. They held the mighty Dynamo scoring machine scoreless in a 2-0 win. The Fire allowed a remarkbly bad four goals against a Houston team struggling to even score once. If Toronto wins their two remaining home fixtures, loses in Seattle, and ties the other match against Chivas that puts them on 41 points to finish the year.
Remaining Matches: Houston, FC Dallas, @New York, Seattle, @Chicago, @New England, San Jose
The Wizards revived their playoffs hopes with a win against Chivas this weekend. They are now four points ahead of the Fire in the table with the same amount of games played. They have a tough remaining road ahead with a must win home game against the Dynamo on Wednesday night. I'll say KC beats Houston and New England while managing draws against Seattle and San Jose at home. That would place them at 2-3-2 to close out the year and 38 points.
Here's the current playoff table.
If the above holds true and the Fire miraculously find their form to go on a 5-1-1 run here's what the playoff picture will look like. (I'm assuming the top 5 are in, pending monumental collapse) :
1. Los Angeles Galaxy
2. Real Salt Lake
3. Columbus Crew
4. New York Red Bulls
5. FC Dallas
6. San Jose - 47 points
7. Seattle - 44 points
8. Colorado - 43 points
A 5-1-1 record and 42 total points will still not be enough to qualify. In fact, they would still miss out by one point even if Colorado has a late mini collapse. That would be an almost poetic end and a final gut punch in a season full of them.
Like I said.....not a pretty picture.