The Fire hold their fate in their own hands.
Win and you're in.
Victories over Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls to close the season will ensure that Chicago participates in post season play for the second consecutive year. A win over New York next weekend may not even be mandatory if results fall their way on Saturday. The Fire can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Toronto and a combination of Philadelphia and New England losses. They could even find themselves in third place if New York manages to beat Houston in Texas.
A listless 1-1 draw on September 11 in Toronto seems a distant memory with two consecutive wins against weak opponents albeit on the road where nothing is a given. They've got another chance to pick up three against TFC but this time at home.
Projected line ups
Johnson; Segares, Berry, Soumare, Anibaba; Lindpere, Alex, Larentowicz, Nyarko; Magee, Anangono
Frei; Morgan, Henry, Caldwell, Bloom; Convey, Russell, Osorio, Rey; Weideman, Dike
Toronto FC lost their last match 1-0 in Philadelphia, allowing a stoppage time free kick goal after playing a man up for the last thirteen minutes of the game. Starting 'keeper Joe Bendik picked up two yellow cards at the end of the game and will be replaced by Stefan Frei. Ryan Nelsen has other options in Reggie Lambe, Justin Braun, and Robert Earnshaw but this is the essentially the lineup he used in Philadelphia. Jeremy Hall is also out due to card accumulation.
Egidio Arevalo Rios is back with the club but he played a full 90 minutes in a difficult World Cup Qualifier on Tuesday and traveled back on Wednesday. Klopas could stick with the Larentowicz/Alex combination that played well in Dallas last weekend if Rios needs some time for recuperation. Dilly Duka and Patrick Nyarko both were injury concerns after the Dallas game but both returned to training on Tuesday. Joel Lindpere and Chris Rolfe are available if Duka and Nyarko aren't at one hundred percent at game time.
This game may be more difficult than imagined considering TFC was idle last weekend. They have been out of playoff competition for a while and don't have much to play for so an early goal could bury them. There may be some hand wringing and a few tense moments but the Fire should win this one. You'd expect another three goal offensive effort but the Fire don't make anything easy.
Fire 2 Toronto FC 1
The rest of the league
Sporting KC 2 DC United 0
Montreal 1 Philadelphia 1
FC Dallas 1 Seattle 2
Colorado 2 Vancouver 1
New England 2 Columbus 1
Portland 1 Real Salt Lake 0
Houston 1 New York 1
Los Angeles 1 San Jose 0
Season record 143/304
Fire playoff scenario
The Fire can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Toronto FC, a Montreal win over Philadelphia, and a New England loss or draw versus Columbus.
They can move into third in the East with a win and a Houston loss or draw (depending on goals scored).