Sunday's clash in NY shaping up for playoff atmosphere

Are the Fire a playoff team?

Their 12-5-5 record over the last five months would lead you to believe that they are. The mathematical odds seem to indicate that they are. The fact that they're above the red line with one game remaining would suggest so.

The possibility does exist however, that Chicago could be left out of the postseason tournament come the end of the day Sunday. After a stretch of three games against MLS' bottom dwellers, they may have to earn their way into the playoffs by picking up a result against the club currently leading the Supporter's Shield race. This Sunday's game in New York against the Red Bulls could very well be a "playoff game" if results preceding the match don't go the Fire's way. Needing to win on the road against the current top squad in the league is as good a test as any.

Those hoping that the game may not be important to New York may not get their wish. The Red Bulls hold the lead for the Supporter's Shield by one point over Sporting Kansas City, two points over Portland, and are three ahead of Real Salt Lake. The Shield would be the first significant hardware for the franchise formerly known as the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars and they've been in good form of late. They're 3-0-2 in their last five matches, but it should be noted that the two wins before the 3-0 victory in Houston were against the same FC Dallas and Toronto FC clubs that the Fire claimed victories over. They have also impressively hammered Houston twice in the last month. The aforementioned 3-nil win was preceded by another 4-1 spanking at BBVA Compass Stadium on September 8.

With Sporting travelling to Philadelphia three days after competing in a CCL match at home it's possible that New York could have the Eastern Conference sewed up by game time. A Union win at home against KC on Saturday wouldn't matter to the Fire since they hold the tie breaker advantage against them. The game is significant for the Red Bulls though. RSL finishes their season tonight against Chivas USA at home and a win would tie them on points with New York, furthermore they're both still very close in the next two tie-breakers so the match tonight is also important for NYRB. The Timbers should beat Chivas USA on Saturday night to push them past New York for the top spot as well.

This match will likely mean a lot for New York. From the Fire's perspective, there are scenarios that will still place them into the playoffs even if they lose on Sunday. A Fire loss or draw in New York combined with a Houston win over hapless DC United and a New England win over Columbus will leave them on the outside looking in. If all three of those things happen the Fire are out. They'll know exactly what result they'll need by halftime with Houston-DC kicking off at 12:30 on Sunday and New England-Columbus starting one hour before Chicago-New York does. That makes for a long day of nail biting.

A Montreal loss in Toronto can also lead to Fire qualification despite a loss in New York but they'll need to score 5 more goals than the Impact do this weekend. Not likely. Incredibly, the Fire can finish as high as third and as low as sixth.

This match is shaping up to be playoff game #1. It just happens to be against the top team in the East, on the road, with the pressure of knowing every result before the final whistle. Say what you will about the first ten games of the season but if the Fire qualify they certainly will have earned it.

Notes and misc

  • The Fire Reserves beat Toronto FC 4-2 on Sunday morning to finish the year at 5-7-1. 
  • Remember that forthcoming front office change we talked about weeks ago? There are still some moves afoot but it seems they've decided to wait on an announcement until after the season is over.
  • With the season winding down and offseason planning already underway for some clubs there is sure to be movement on the coaching carousel. Of note to the Fire, watch Vancouver. Martin Rennie's fate should be decided early next week and it's possible that former San Jose coach Frank Yallop lands with the Whitecaps in some capacity. The Fire may be interested in Yallop but necessarily as a coach.
  • At the moment there doesn't appear to be anything to Alexi Lalas' speculation at halftime of the LA/San Jose game on Sunday night that Jesse Marsch could end up back in Chicago. Marsch is currently an assistant coach at Princeton.
  • If the Fire land in the 4th spot, the play-in game will be played at Toyota Park on Halloween night next Thursday.

Filed under: 2013 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • I do hope the Fire make the playoffs, but I hope not in 4th place. That game last year on Halloween was miserably attended. I remember pulling into the lot around "kickoff" (so a half a hour before the game actually started) and being in around the fourth row of parking.

  • Guys. I have been a season ticket holder since the start of the fire. I played soccer almost my entire life and just love the sport.
    Unfortunately this season basically destroyed my interest in the team. The thought of using my hard earned money to see teams that are managed by the likes of Klopas and Leon just does not work. I will admitt that they completely lucked out in getting McGee but lets say things went as planned and we received roberts . Where would the team be? Enough said I do enjoy this blog it is well written and very up to date. Hopefully next year we will find ourselves with someone like porter from the timbers.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Thanks John....stay tuned.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    My feelings exactly !!
    Driving from St Louis to watch what the Fire is putting on the field is NOT goingto happen.
    BTW -- Mix Diskerud said on TV that he would be interested in playing in MLS for a team in a cold-weather area. --- Hint

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Saw that. Portland actually went after Diskerud last off season but couldn't make it happen.

  • It's been pointed out elsewhere that Denis Hamlet was let go in 2009 after taking Chicago to the Eastern Conf. Final two years straight. I wouldn't bank on Klopas being a shoo-in for coach next year if they make the playoffs. He's had a winning record during his tenure, but that guarantees nothing.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    It seems the general feeling changes with the wind but it's looking like the chances are good for Klopas returning at the moment.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I remember you saying that a couple a weeks ago, that the rumor floating didn't have to do with Klopas. It seems it might be Leon, given your response to brokerjohn. Maybe the communications director guy too... ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Please say it ain't so !!!!

  • Playoff date UPDATE

    If the Fire end up in the 4 or 5 spot......

    The knockout game could be played on Wednesday October 30, giving the Fire only 2 days to recuperate and recover from a Sunday game.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    10/30 whether it's at home or away?

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    No details either way yet. Play in games are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. They could end up with either one.

  • The idea of a possible mid-week away game in Montreal is not very appealing.

  • The good news is MTL, HOU, and NE are all playing on the road. The bad news is the teams they are playing aren't very good. However, I think TFC is going to play MTL hard for canadian bragging rights. I also think that CLB may want to get revenge on NE and try to knock them out of the playoffs like NE did to them last week. But if we take care of our own business, we won't really have to worry about any of that. Although it would be nice if we won and TFC could at least tie MTL so we can avoid the play-in game.

    Should be an interesting and fun weekend. Last weekend of the regular season and still so many possibilities. Unbelievable.

  • Playoffs are a joke when there is a play in game. Isn't this exactly what we're doing right now?

  • Jesse Marsch is an UNPAID assistant coach at Princeton. When the Dons played Loyola MD a month or so ago, he chatted with me and my family for a couple minutes (the Fire flag and Fire shirts we all wore were a dead give-away to him... heh heh). Obviously he's not going to confide in a random fan, but he did say he was looking for opportunities.

    He was positive about the Fire, and diplomatic about his time in Montreal. I've read elsewhere that he felt the situation there was pretty tough. In talking with me, he suggested that it's part of a move in the league towards younger and more hands-on owners - Montreal, Seattle, Portland being the prime examples.

    Not sure how Hauptmann fits in there or if he thinks he'd be as difficult to work for as Saputo.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Marsch has reportedly interviewed for the Crew job recently. Neither he, nor Saputo came out of that situation looking particularly good.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I don't know what his qualities were as a coach. I do admire him and his wife travelling around the world after he lost the job, though. Sort of the Landon Donovan of coaching. But he didn't have a contract to return to.

  • Could the American Pharaoh be returning to Chicago? They were hinting at that at Soccer America.

  • In reply to Doug:

    That would make a lot of people happy but I wouldn't believe 90% of the stuff found on Soccer America.

  • NY fans and the suits are just salivating for NY to win on Sunday. Pieces like this make me really, really, really want to rain on their parade. Uhh, hello, there is another team playing in the game:

    This after the endless games to christen the home debuts of other teams' new SS stadiums.

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