East going down to the wire

With only seven points separating the top spot from the seventh in the Eastern Conference it's not hard to imagine that the playoff qualifiers may not be determined until the final weekend of the season. The Fire have ten games remaining and currently sit outside of the pack in seventh place but they've got as many as two "games in hand" against three of their competitors. Every game is setting up to be a must win match but they're not the only club in that boat. A slip up or drop in form like the one Sporting Kansas City has suffered through lately could prove disastrous for any of the current top three.

Here's a look at the remaining schedule for each of the seven clubs still in contention for a playoff spot. I've excluded Columbus, DC United, and Toronto FC from the mix. They haven't been mathematically eliminated but they'd almost need an undefeated and untied closure to the season with additional help in order to qualify.

Montreal Impact (41 pts, 12-7-5)

The Impact started the season on a roll before coming back to the pack over the last two months. A resounding 5-0 win over Houston this past Saturday has raised some eyebrows. They will have tired legs to battle over the next two months with CONCACAF Champion's League matches on 8/21, 9/17, and 9/24.

8/31 @Philadelphia, 9/8 @ New England, 9/14 v Columbus, 9/21 v Vancouver, 9/28 @ Chicago, 10/4 @ Houston, 10/12 v New England, 10/16 @ Los Angeles, 10/19 v Phildelphia, 10/26 @ Toronto FC

New York Red Bulls (39 pts, 11-9-6)

They've obviously got some offensive talent but there are still concerns defensively. They really haven't shown up as a cohesive unit all season and their up and down status shows it. The Fire has two games in hand on them and they finish the regular against each other at Red Bull Arena.

8/31 v DC, 9/8 @ Houston, 9/14 v Toronto FC, 9/22, v FC Dallas, 9/29 @ Seattle, 10/5 v New England, 10/20 @ Houston, 10/27 v Chicago

Sporting Kansas City (39 pts, 11-9-6)

Still the best overall team for my money if all things are equal and all clubs are in form going down the stretch despite their current run. Sporting has lost 4 of 5 but now have Graham Zusi back from injury and Kei Kamara returning soon. Claudio Bieler needs to find his early season form.

8/31 v Colorado, 9/7 v Columbus, 9/21 @ Toronto FC, 9/27 v Philadelphia, 10/5 @ Columbus, 10/9 @ Houston, 10/18 v DC, 10/26 @ Philadelphia

Philadelphia Union (38 pts, 10-8-8)

One of the three clubs that the Fire have a two "game-in-hand" advantage on and probably the most likely that they can catch without beating head to head. The Fire have lost twice to them this year so the win in Philadelphia a few weeks ago was especially big. The Union also have two games left apiece versus Sporting and Montreal.

8/31 v Montreal, 9/8 @ San Jose, 9/14 v Houston, 9/27 @ Sporting KC, 10/5 v Toronto FC, 10/12 @ DC, 10/19 @ Montreal, 10/16 v Sporting KC

New England Revolution (36 pts, 10-9-6)

The best defensive team in terms of goals allowed in the lot of contenders. They've also had difficulty scoring until recently. The Fire will need to beat them at Toyota Park on September 14 in order to offset the 2-0 loss two weeks ago. The Crew could do them some serious damage at the end of the fixture list.

8/30 @ Toronto FC, 9/8 v Montreal, 9/14 @ Chicago, 9/21 v DC, 9/28 v Houston, 10/5 @ New York, 10/12 @ Montreal, 10/19 v Columbus, 10/27 @ Columbus

Houston Dynamo (36 pts, 10-8-6)

Sunday's match is a big one for the Dynamo if they want to stay in the top five. They've also got three CONCACAF Champion's League games to contend with. The first one is tomorrow at home. The others are on 9/25 and 10/24. Despite the CCL congestion they have the same number of matches remaining as the Fire do.

9/1 @ Chicago, 9/4 @ Columbus, 9/8 v New York, 9/14 @ Philadelphia, 9/21 v Chivas USA, 9/28 @ New England, 10/4 v Montreal, 10/9 v Sporting KC, 10/20 v New York, 10/27 @ DC

Chicago Fire (34 pts, 10-10-4)

It's a cliché, but they hold their fate in their own hands. Beating Houston at home this coming Sunday is crucial because a trip to Seattle, where they've never won is on deck next. The remainder of the schedule isn't particularly difficult with FC Dallas the only Western Conference opponent. An easier schedule didn't help them during the last month of the season in 2012 however when an October collapse landed them in the play-in game.

9/1 v Houston, 9/7 @ Seattle, 9/11 @ Toronto FC, 9/14 v New England, 9/21 @ Columbus, 9/28 v Montreal, 10/4 @ DC, 10/12 @ FC Dallas, 10/19 v Toronto FC, 10/27 @ New York

 Current Standings 

# Club PTS GP PPG W L T GF GA GD HG HGD RG RGD
1 Montreal Impact 41 24 1.71 12 7 5 41 35 6 28 15 13 -9
2 New York Red Bulls 39 26 1.5 11 9 6 38 34 4 22 11 16 -7
3 Sporting Kansas City 39 26 1.5 11 9 6 36 26 10 23 10 13 0
4 Philadelphia Union 38 26 1.46 10 8 8 37 37 0 21 6 16 -6
5 New England Revolution 36 25 1.44 10 9 6 34 24 10 21 13 13 -3
6 Houston Dynamo 36 24 1.5 10 8 6 29 28 1 17 8 12 -7
7 Chicago Fire 34 24 1.42 10 10 4 30 34 -4 22 6 8 -10
8 Columbus Crew 29 25 1.16 8 12 5 29 34 -5 14 4 15 -9
9 Toronto FC 21 25 0.84 4 12 9 22 34 -12 15 -2 7 -10
10 D.C. United 14 25 0.56 3 17 5 15 41 -26 12 -9 3 -17

It's important to note that the first three tie breakers are most wins, goals for, and goal differential. The Fire and Houston are currently at the bottom when it comes to goals scored.

The Fire's 8-3-3 record over the last fourteen games is tops in the league during that period but the hole they dug themselves into magnifies every loss significantly. I don't see them landing in one of the top three spots but in MLS' world of parity driven competition you can't rule anything out.

Filed under: 2013 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • You mean parody-driven?

  • In reply to Adam Morgan:

    I found it humorous that ESPN had the word "parody" in their graphics last night.

  • I kind of find it ridiculous that MLS has too much parity. A bad team can be really bad, but even a really good MLS team isn't really that good.

  • Ok, what about your predictions for the final finish?

    I'll give mine:
    1. Montreal - current leaders with 2 games in hand on teams 2 & 3, it's enough for them to hang on. plus it's a way cooler city than kc.
    2. KC - i see them as the best team in the conference, but not with enough to catch montreal in the end.
    3. NY - hurts me on a personal level that they're better than the Fire. if you can believe it, i still have a bit of bitterness from jc osorio. ;)
    4. Fire - with their games in hand, current form, and 2 seemingly solid signings in Rios and Anangono, i think they make a run to 4th place.
    5. Houston - because they're Houston. knowing them, they'll end up in the finals or at least the conference finals.

    NE and Philly round it out, and just don't have enough to keep their current playoff positions in the end.

  • In reply to Drew:

    The top three should be in.

    Fire, Houston, Philly, and Revs are all in the mix together.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I agree, but I thought it'd be interesting to use your information to put a prediction down on paper and see how it looks at the end of the season.

  • Fire Reserves lose in New York

    http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2013/08/reserves-last-minute-goal-sees-fire-fall-2-1-red-bull-tuesday

    Here's the Fire line-up
    Chicago Fire – Paolo Tornaghi, Mike Videira (Victor Pineda 70’), Steve Kinney, Hunter Jumper, Shaun Francis, Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini (Yazid Atouba 61’), Corben Bone, Wells Thompson, Juan Luis Anangono (Brendan King 65’), Quincy Amarikwa (Maicon Santos 59’)

    Jumper and Anangono got starts which would seem to indicate Soumare and Rolfe will be back in the starting eleven on Sunday.

  • I think Jumper should get the nod over Soumare mostly because Jumper and Berry clearly made a cohesive team. Here's a question, does Soumare make the goal against KC? No way. Start your best team. Soumare has a great Fire history, but his best shot was against DH in the Houston locker room.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I second this. Soumare has been awful since we got him.

  • Just some thoughts... What the heck is wrong with Corben? When he fell on the draft board, I was so excited to see him there because of all the footage we saw of him at Wake. Diagonal one timers, through passes with eyes on the back of his head, cool head and good vision... what's going on in his head? At 24, the clock is ticking on him making good of his career.

  • In reply to waamsy:

    He's had some moments but he hasn't exactly blown anyone away in reserve games and training. He's a case of a player that would definitely benefit from a USL or NASL loan move.

  • My guess is that he was forced to re-sign with the Fire at a lower (non-GA) contract because no other teams were interested in taking him from the Re-Entry draft. Only reason I can see why he'd take such a huge pay cut to stay here and play reserve minutes a 2nd year in a row.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    He should go play with Cosmos with all the other has beens and never was-es

  • If you haven't caught it yet, check out the latest episode of the Podcast wherein we discuss the "Editorial" with the OTF guys.....

    http://firepodfc.com/

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