Can The Fire Qualify For The Playoffs? Is Pappa Headed For Holland?

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.


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.

New York

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

Chivas USA

DC, @Chicago, @DC, Toronto, Philadelphia, @Los Angeles, Seattle

DC United

@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.





Filed under: 2011 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • I don't think the loss of Pappa would hurt that much, he's been out of sinc with the other players, even more so, with the addition of Pardo and Grazzini, it's been awhile since he has scored a goal, both Nyarko and Oduro have outclassed him. Would rather see him on the bench and either Chaves or Orr start on the top with Oduro.
    Pappa would be more useful coming off the bench as a sub for either Oduro or Nyarko later in a game. Perhaps, the suggested lineup change might happen if the Fire are no longer in contention.
    Pappa really hasn't done that much with the newly adopted lineup
    that has turned the corner. He disappears more times than Houdini but doesn't have his magic. Klopas must either have a problem with his eyes or his brain, most of the regular fans in my section groan
    when Pappa touches the ball. Since he still is under contract, maybe the Fire will get something out of it, can't see what Twente sees in him, he isn't that highly rated on the transfer market,
    roughly $520K, not $2 mil. Maybe with the right team he may become a fairly decent player, don't see him becoming a top flight international player.

  • The above is primarily based upon Pappa as a midfield player,
    maybe Twente is looking at him as a possible forward, that would be an interesting proposition. Wonder how he would work out as a forward, has a wicked kick.
    I'd give the Fire at least a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs, maybe it'll be the reverse of last year when we got Freddie, although things looked tight, there were enough weak teams left on the schedule that were winable games, now when things look hopeless, things are starting to turn around, but they have to play better than they did in the cup game. Maybe last year they caved due to pressure, now they don't have anything to lose and may pull it out.

  • Having long given up any hope for the playoffs, I do think that with Grazzini and Pardo, tehre is a shot. I agree with LC's analyis of Pappa's recent play. The one game that Pappa was actually playing well, Frank pulled him and Pappa could not understand why. So not only is there lack of understanding on the field, there is lack of understanding between Frank and Marco. Pappa needs to be in front of goal to be more effective and he is not getting the number of touches he needs to get into the flow of the game. His passes are either too hard or misplayed. The only guy whose passes lately have been more awful is Logan Pause (but that's a different story). So to answe the question will the Fire make the playoffs, I say they have a 25% chance.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Pappa's had to adjust his game a bit with Grazzini and Pardo on the pitch and it seems he's still trying to figure out how best to fit in with a different role. WIth Grazzini in the middle, Pappa's no longer reqquired to attempt to take over and dribble through defenders or feel forced to create something. It's taken away from his offensive production but he has increased his work on the defensive end over the last month. He also seems to have improved to his right this season. We'll see over the next nine games (including USOC) if he and the Fire can figure it out.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Have to respectfully disagree RE: Pause... Logan's been in great form in August, passes have been much better and much more of the forward kind...

    Ragging on Pause at this juncture means you haven't been watching the games or you just have an ax to grind with him. Either way you're incorrect unfortunately.

    Marco's not in good form right now but he is playing better defensively than we've probably ever seen. Looking at the bench, I think I'd like to see Corben Bone get a bit of a run out if Pappa isn't adding much but if not, I can deal with Marco going through a rough patch... all players do.

  • In reply to seaside:

    I have been one of the biggest Pause supporters here but when we play this diamond that is really working, he doesn't offer much to the team. His defense is very good but he doesnt offer much else. When he was the holding midfielder he didnt need any offense because his sole job was to win the ball and then get rid of it. Now when he is out on the right he needs to bring something to the team when we do have the ball. I would like to see Nyarko playing where Pause is and Nazarit up top. Nazarit would allow Oduro to run off of his flicks and lay offs. I think we are playing really well and shouldnt really change anything until we have to but I think Nazarit in for Pause and move Nyarko back into the right side of the diamond would be really fun to watch.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I'm more on Seaside's camp on this one, Pause has been pretty good in August. His value doesn't come from getting forward it comes from his willingness to drop back and help Pardo in the back of the diamond when needed. He's never going to be an offensive weapon but he has played better in that department since moving positions. The good thing about Pardo in the holding mid spot is that he can play both ends, he can defend and he's also capable of moving the ball forward to the attacking players. In my mind the holding mid spot should be able to defend and link up the defense to the attackers.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I agree that he has played quite well in recent matches. He has also brought a little more to the team on the offensive end. I just think that playing on the wing in a diamond formation, he should be willing to get forward just as much as getting back. Pappa has been doing a very good job at doing that recently. On the right side, Gargon is always getting involved in the attack while Logan is always dropping in behind. What I was going for with Nyarko in his spot was having Nyarko getting forward and taking players on on the wing. When Nyarko and Oduro beat players now they only really have the other player in the box and it really limits the ball that they can play in. If Nazarit was in and Nyarko was dropped back into the diamond then Nyarko would still beat his defenders and have Nazarit and Oduro in the box with Pappa and Grazzini trailing for a ball to be played back to them.

  • i think 4% is a bit high, i think it's like a 1% chance they can climb over all those teams to make it. they have been doing fairly well as of late, but considering what they've accomplished this season, i see too many draws in their future to make an enormous push this late in the season.

    pappa is pretty good and could give twente some depth, but i can't imagine he's worth much in terms of actually purchasing him from the fire. would be nice to get something though, and not sitting him and having him come in as a sub is certainly going to maximize his value.

  • Stop by and vote if you get a chance.......

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    voted :)

  • teh way pappa is currently playing, i'd like to see barrouch get the start instead and see how having him at forward along oduro makes any difference for a good portion of the match. its all about creating space for attacking players, and it just seems pappa's play lately is constricting any attacks

    he has, admittedly, picked up his defensive play lately though.

    as far as playoff chances, obviously the next 3 are crucial being teams right around the Fire in current standings. all are winnable, IMO, but all are losable as well. if they get by those 3 and are within a point or two, then the matches vs two texas teams will be huge, plus the DC match may end up being a decider

    i dont think NYRB will end up in playoffs, even if luke rodgers returns in the same form. the NYRB defense is just horrible this season (WTF happened to ream? he has been terrible IMO)

    DC and chivas are the biggest threats, IMO. and the Fire are at least on even terms with those two teams as far as talent.

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    MLS Playoffs are a long way away, and even if you make it, you still haven't won anything. Just win the US Open Cup, please!!!!!!!

  • In reply to waam:

    It seems talking to a lot of fans that this is the attitude, though I can only assume that they haven't looked at the playoff standings of late...

    Five points is not that far away, especially when your next three games are with teams right around you or below you... Just a scenario for this week:

    Vancouver draws a sputtering Red Bull team on the road
    Fire beat San Jose on the road
    Chivas and DC United draw
    Philly defeats Portland at home

    Makes the playoff standings look like this
    New York - 32
    Portland - 32
    Chivas - 32
    DC - 32
    Chicago - 30

    Fire go into their next two HOME matches against Chivas (6 pointer) and New England (winnable) and things become even more interesting...

    Not saying it will be easy but to count their playoff hopes as a longshot, I fear fans still think its May and this team only has one win. Late season runs are never out of the question in MLS... why so different with the Fire and the way they've been playing?

    Still won't be easy but its not out of the question.

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    In reply to seaside:

    Your right. Never say never. I can see it happening too. I wish we were actually playing contending teams for some reason. I know we are playing winnable games, but it would be better to beat the teams directly in front of us. Anyway, I'm a proud supporter of winning the US Open Cup. To me, that trophy is not that far off from an MLS Cup title. It's still considered a major trophy.

  • In reply to waam:

    There are only 2 trophies to win each season. Winning one of them has to be considered a success. If we win the US Open Cup we would be one of 2 teams that won a trophy. That game has to demand our full attention from the team. That means resting players in MLS games if need be. That game is a must win.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    RBman, even further to your point, making the MLS playoffs earns the team nothing as far as post season competitions. If they win the US Open Cup, they are in next year's CONCACAF Champion's League. While having other teams play the Fire in international friendlies is interesting, I think playing in a competition with meaning would be far more interesting. When and if MLS gets invited into Copa SudAmerica or Copa Libertadores that too will be amazing, but right now, MLS's best and greatest international competition on the Champions League which is a fantastic tournament to watch. Its a shame it does not get the publicity in the US that it deserves. Even among soccer websites and writers, its gets relatively little attention. The fact that winning the Open Cup gets an invite to this tournament should elevate the Cup's importance.

  • Can get a look at Orr (hopefully) @ 1PM, Fox Soccer Channel

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Did he start? I'm watching a stream in Italian and I missed the roster. I found a site with play-by-play that has been talking about a "Barough" but I wasn't sure if that would be him or not.

  • In reply to Mateu:

    Correction -- definitely started, just went down in the box in the 39th minute and is currently being looked over on the sideline but should be okay. A bit scary, still. He's had some good movement in the box, nothing outstanding so far but solid play.

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