Fire's Second Half Begins Tomorrow

While I wait for ChicagoNow to reload most of the previous Fire Confidential posts that featured the recap and ratings for each match which would enable me to complete my midseason grades I've decided to take a look at where the Fire stand half way through the MLS season. 

Remarkably the Fire are still well within reach of a playoff spot despite only managing two wins through their first 17 matches.  Of course it helps that MLS expanded the playoff field to ten this season and the Eastern Conference isn't exactly filled with clubs that will challenge for the Supporter's Shield.  The top two clubs both have their issues.  New York has been poor defensively and are now in the midst of reshaping their side after dealing Dwayne DeRosario to DC.  Philadelphia has ridden an undefeated home record to the top of the Eastern table but they've had issues in the final third all season. 

Columbus, Houston, DC, Toronto, and Sporting Kansas City are all ahead of the Fire in the table but the side currently holding the tenth and final playoff spot, Houston is only two points better than Chicago at this point.   A look at the table shows a pretty closely jumbled conference.

Eastern Conference

# Club PTS GP W L T GF GA GD Home Away Last 5
1 Philadelphia Union 26 16 7 4 5 19 14 5 5-0-4 2-4-1 T-T-L-T-W
2 New York Red Bulls 24 17 5 3 9 27 21 6 4-1-3 1-2-6 T-W-T-L-T
3 Columbus Crew 24 16 6 4 6 20 17 3 5-1-3 1-3-3 T-W-L-W-W
4 Houston Dynamo 19 17 4 6 7 21 22 -1 4-3-2 0-3-5 T-L-W-L-T
5 D.C. United 18 15 4 5 6 21 27 -6 2-2-4 2-3-2 W-T-L-T-T
6 Toronto FC 18 19 3 7 9 17 29 -12 3-3-5 0-4-4 T-T-L-L-W
7 Sporting Kansas City 17 15 4 6 5 19 21 -2 2-0-1 2-6-4 T-W-W-T-W
8 Chicago Fire 17 17 2 4 11 18 21 -3 1-1-6 1-3-5 T-W-T-T-T
9 New England Revolution 15 17 3 8 6 13 21 -8 3-2-4 0-6-2 L-L-T-T-L

The Crew have also maintained an impressive home record allowing them to stay in the hunt for the top spot in the East.  How each team manages the transfer window and integrates any new additions into the side will surely tell the tale as the season winds down.  DC now has DeRosario at their disposal but reports are they are planning to play him at the top of a diamond behind Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies.  That may sound enticing but DeRosario is probably best utilized as a withdrawn forward at this point in his career as New York found out. 

I'm not sold on Toronto FC's acquistion of Torsten Frings either.  Aron Winter now has three players at the holding mid spot to sort through with Frings, Julian DeGuzman, and Tony Tchani on the squad.  Unloading DeGuzman who has underperformed in his time with Toronto won't be easy due to his DP salary.  Houston is in search of mid season additions, particularly up front after the Sergio Koke debacle. 

Sporting Kansas City is tied on points with Chicago with 17 but they have played two fewer games and have fourteen matches remaining at home after starting the season on a perpetual road trip while waiting for their new stadium to be completed.  They do however face some challenges with Davy Arnaud now injured, Ryan Smith unavailable for the rest of the season, and Stephen Auvray mysteriously missing from training. 

The Fire can start the second half on the right foot by taking advantage of a Chivas side currently running through a stretch of bad form losing three consecutive matches.  A look at the Western Conference shows that the balance of power is still where it was last season.

Western Conference

# Club PTS GP W L T GF GA GD Home Away Last 5
1 LA Galaxy 35 19 9 2 8 25 15 10 4-0-4 5-2-4 W-T-T-W-T
2 Seattle Sounders FC 31 19 8 4 7 25 18 7 5-2-3 3-2-4 T-T-W-W-W
3 FC Dallas 31 17 9 4 4 24 17 7 6-2-2 3-2-2 T-W-L-W-W
4 Real Salt Lake 26 15 7 3 5 18 9 9 5-1-2 2-2-3 L-T-T-T-W
5 Colorado Rapids 22 17 5 5 7 19 21 -2 2-2-4 3-3-3 T-T-W-L-L
6 San Jose Earthquakes 20 15 5 5 5 20 17 3 3-2-3 2-3-2 T-W-W-L-T
7 Portland Timbers 18 15 5 7 3 18 26 -8 5-2-1 0-5-2 L-L-L-T-L
8 Chivas USA 17 16 4 7 5 20 21 -1 2-4-2 2-3-3 T-W-L-L-L
9 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 14 18 2 8 8 18 25 -7 2-1-5 0-7-3 L-T-W-L-L

 Three Western Conference clubs currently have accumulated more than 30 points.   The Eastern Conference leaders would sit in fifth place if MLS used a single table alignment.   The Fire still have difficult road games remaining at Los Angeles, at San Jose, and at Real Salt Lake while Colorado and FC Dallas visit Toyota Park later this season.  Picking up points against the West won't be easy especially if central midfield isn't addressed when the transfer window opens two weeks from today.

If the playoffs were to start tomorrow the participants would be Philadelphia, New York, Columbus, and Houston from the East and six sides from the West.  Los Angeles, Seattle, FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Colorado, and San Jose.

Filed under: 2011 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • The comments section is active. You can also vote for first half team MVP in the poll along the right rail.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    i don't see this team winning the MLS cup this year. i want them to focus on the Open Cup, that is their best chance for silverware. GR do you know if the fire are close to announcing any signings? or will we have to wait yet again?

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    I would think we'll see something before the window opens on July 15.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I would like to see the USA "Replace Sunil Gulati" He hasn't done
    much to help promote the team. "I would also like the Fire to replace
    Julian Posada he has had long enough to convince those who still had doubts
    that he is the "Wrong Guy for Chicago- Fire President.
    I think Peter Wilt as an example, would have have done so much better as
    No Positive Accomplishment Posada."

  • GR, I like the site changes (I think). Anyway, it seems to me that if the Fire get through their California trip with more than just 2 points, the remaining schedule is fairly favorable for them. Going out to Rio Tinto in September, but they will know if they have a real (pun intended) shot at making the playoffs by then. Going down to Houston in October is probably the best time of the year to go there. All in all, the schedule is looking good for the Fire, but they have to start scoring otherwise, the schedule doesn't matter. Any thoughts on Nazarit looking a little disgusted with his teammates during the USOC game. I cannot remember, but during a through in he waived someone off basically because (based on body language) he didn't trust that the other guy would do a good enough job onthe throw. Is there more to this? Is he a difficult person in the club house?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I really like the new features along the right rail but I'd like to see some changes in the font and size of the main content.

    Nazirit looked a bit off on Tuesday night in general. I haven't heard anything about him being a locker room problem, players argue and disagree all the time on the pitch during games...I wouldn't make much out of it.

  • >> ... which would enable me to complete my midseason grades

    Eh, just give everyone a 5 and call it a day. ;-)

  • In reply to chlade:

    I think I may have done that after that dreadful KC game. ;)

  • GR, Any more news coming from Switzerland from the FIFA voting/bribery scandal? It makes me really sick that there is really no public discussion about the US's vote at the CONCACAF meeting in Miami where we voted to again appoint Jack Warner. We must have known of the scandal, yet we voted for Jack Warner. The US voting record is shameful. Are there any US journalists hounding Sunil Gulati about US soccer's stance on this?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    You're right Krasov it is sickening. Unfortunately I'm not aware of any journalists in the US pressing Gulati on the US voting record. They seem to be too busy speculating about Bob Bradleys future.

  • Both have cushy jobs, low expectations. As long as there are no embarassments, they could probably keep on the gravy train for life...

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