With over a week to go before the Fire's next match in San Jose we'll have a lot of time on our hands to ponder such things as "do the Fire really have a chance to make the playoffs"? While it doesn't seem likely and it seemed downright impossible on August 18 after a record breaking tie against DC United there is a chance that the Fire can sneak in. In the parity laden world of the MLS second tier nothing is impossible.
The next three matches at San Jose on September 10, at home against Chivas USA on September 17, and at home again versus New England on September 25 all seem winnable before a difficult trip to Rio Tinto Stadium to close the month. Needless to say all three of those "winnable" matches will likely require the Fire to earn maximum points just to retain hope. Defeating San Jose and New England will essentially knock them out of the crowded race for the 10th and final playoff spot so let's focus on the three teams directly in front of the Fire in pursuit of the final berth currently held by the New York Red Bulls. Here are the standings focusing on the the Red Bulls, Portland, Chivas USA, DC, and the Fire.
PTS GP GD
New York 32 26 4
Portland 32 26 -8
Chivas 31 27 2
DC 31 24 -1
Chicago 27 26 -3
San Jose 26 26 -8
A victory over San Jose combined with the Earthquakes inferior goal differential total will likely knock them out of a realistic chance to qualify for post season. The Red Bulls are struggling but they are expecting the return of injured players Luke Rodgers and Frank Rost. DC has two games in hand which makes the draw on August 18 even more damaging. Here's the remaining schedule for each of the competitors.
Vancouver, @FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Portland, @Toronto, Los Angeles, @Kansas City, Philadelphia
@Philadelphia, New England, San Jose, @New York, @Vancouver, Houston, @DC, @Real Salt Lake
DC, @Chicago, @DC, Toronto, Philadelphia, @Los Angeles, Seattle
@Chivas, @Seattle, Chivas, Real Salt Lake, @Philadelphia, @Columbus, @Vancouver, Chicago, Portland, Kansas City
@San Jose, Chivas, New England, @Real Salt Lake, @Houston, FC Dallas, @DC, Columbus
Given the strength of the remaining schedules for each club, it appears that New York and DC will be the teams to beat for the ten spot. Portland is an awful road team so unless their travelling form magically turns around immediately they will play themselves out of it. Chivas ends the season against Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Seattle so losing to the Fire on September 17 may essentially knock them out of the picture.
The Fire's road trip to the nation's capital on October 15 could be a very interesting one if the team's current form holds up. All that being said, making the playoffs at this point remains a long shot according to this site. Despite victories over Toronto and Colorado the Fire have a 4.1% statistical chance of qualifying.
In the immortal words of Loyd Christmas......"YEAH!"
Pappa to FC Twente?
Despite the closing of the European transfer window on August 31, rumors persist that a Marco Pappa transfer to Dutch side FC Twente has been agreed to. I've been told that there is no truth whatsoever to the story.
I'm sure the Pappa transfer rumors will resurface again in January during the winter transfer window given that his contract with the Fire expires at the end of the 2012 MLS season.