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Chicago Fire set to face Chivas USA in crucial season finale


The task is a simple one for the Chicago Fire, but the simplicity doesn't make it any less difficult. The Fire need a win or tie tonight against Chivas USA in order to secure a playoff berth as well as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Chivas USA isn't about to make it easy though, not when a win tonight at Toyota Park (8pm, ESPN2) will move the Goats one step closer to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

The race for the final three playoff spots in MLS is a tight one, with seven teams vying for three spots, but the Fire can clinch its spot with a draw. You would think that playing at home in this decisive match would be an advantage, but the Fire come into the match with a 4-4-6 home record, making the Fire the only playoff contender that doesn't have a winning home record.

The Fire has stumbled to the finish line as injuries have decimated the club down the stretch, resulting in a six-match winless streak that has Chicago in danger of missing the post-season. With a healthy Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Chris Rolfe in the fold, the Fire should be able to challenge Chivas USA's stingy defense, though the continued absences of Gonzalo Segares and Tim Ward coupled with the potential absence of Wilman Conde (flu) could spell doom against a Chivas USA attack led by a rejuvenated Sacha Kljestan.

Chivas USA has had a much different finish to the season than the Fire, having gone unbeaten in its past six MLS matches (3-0-3). That surge has helped Preki's squad erase the memories of a nine-match winless skid in all competitions that threatened to ruin a season that got off to such a strong start.

Chivas USA can clinch the Western Conference regular season title with four points from its final two matches, and will be looking for just a touch of revenge after losing to the FIre in controversial fashion back in May.

Tonight's match has added significance for the Fire because it marks Chris Armas' enshrinement into the Ring of Fire. U.S. men's national team coach Bob Bradley and Philadelphia Union head coach Peter Nowak will be among those in attendance for the ceremony.

What do you see happening tonight? Think the Fire can finally end its winless skid, or do you see Chivas USA riding its momentum to move a step closer to the West title? Think Cuauhtemoc Blanco can work his magic and revive the FIre the way he's helped revive Mexico?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Maybe he’s got a little nick and Hamlett wants to hold him out unless necessary so as not to risk him. Or maybe he doesn’t think CHivas can run away with it– and they aren’t so far– and wants to bring on Blanco second half so he isn’t gassed and can provide some inspiration. I don’t know, either, but I don’t think Denis is trying to keep Chicago out. He must have SOME justification for it.

  2. MLS coaching is a mystery. Chicago needs win or tie to make play-offs yet Blanco sits on bench? Nyarko has destroyed 6 or 7 Chicago attacks yet remains on field?

    Rolfe has been outstanding. Would like to see Thorton called into the next USMNT camp, give Howard a push.

  3. Also, Chris Rolfe is playing very well today. I want Bob to give him another look now that our forward spots are up for grabs.

  4. Chicago seems to have had the better run of it. Just gotta get the finish. Bornstein’s looked good, though.

    As rare as decent left backs are, anyone think he should try his luck in Europe, maybe AFTER the WC to try to grow his skills?

  5. Has any team been as decimated by absences as Chicago this year? Players that missed significant time, for one reason or another, are McBride, Blanco, Segeras, Ward, Pause, Soumare, Rolfe, Thorrington, Prideaux, and Conde. If this team could have stayed healthy they would have wrapped up a playoff spot weeks ago.

  6. We’re gonna freeze our a$$es out there tonight so they better win (or draw).

    Such an important game and likely to be decided by a slip, or a skip, in bad conditions.


  7. It’s been raining all day. Forecast at 7pm CT – 50 degrees, 80% chance of rain, 15 MPH winds…Gonna be a real mudder.

    McBride scores the lone goal of the night.

  8. LOL, i was rooting for the Crew to beat NE a couple weeks ago…

    though it pained me, what caught me off guard was the guy in front of me at the bar who said “its just MLS, who cares”… he felt quite uncomfortable when he realized he was in front of a MLS fan… shut up the rest of the night

  9. I’m more focused on Sacha Kljestan, who is, as you stated, looking like his old self. This match and the whole of the MLS post-season( and possibly the January friendly) are the only chances Sacha will have to prove himself to his fans, to overseas clubs, and Bob Bradley.

    Personally I think Kljestan will have a big game tonight and I really want him to do well. When he was on form he was my favorite player on the National team and in MLS. Here’s hoping for a Chivas win( and that Sacha grows his hair out again.)


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