Last Saturday night, the Fire blew a 2-0 halftime lead to the Columbus Crew. They were dead last in MLS, and any notion they’d have any chance at a playoff run seemed insane, to say the least. Four days later they beat fellow bottom feeder Toronto FC in a solid performance. Now, Chicago sits just six points out of the seventh and final playoff spot.
FiveThirtyEight gives the Fire a 12 percent chance to make the postseason, which to be fair is still pretty low, but it’s just high enough to believe there might be a chance (cue the Jim Carrey/Dumb and Dumber line).
Enter the Seattle Sounders. Major League Soccer’s most successful and best run team followed up a Concacaf Champions League title in the spring with a fairly lackluster first half to the league season. They’re eighth in the standings, one point back of the LA Galaxy for a playoff spot. Despite the poor start, the Sounders are poised to make a second half run. They always do.
PointsBet actually has the Fire as favorites against the continental champs Saturday night at Soldier Field (+120 for the Fire, +225 for Seattle). But, for the Fire to actually pull off a victory, they’ll need something that’s been lacking this season, something head coach Ezra Hendrickson harps on every match: consistency. The victory over Toronto was important, but the Sounders are on another level.
“We’re very confident coming off the game on Wednesday, but we know it doesn’t matter what the table says, we know that they’re one of the best teams in the league,” Hendrickson told CHGO. “We’re not gonna take them lightly. Our task is to get full points, and keep moving up the table.”
Depending on other results, a win Saturday could also see the Fire creep up the table a bit closer to that final playoff spot.
“Consistency is the big word for us,” Fire captain Rafael Czichos told CHGO. “The biggest problem this year. Everybody can see that we have a team of high quality, and we we play very well most parts of the game, but then we destroy our own game with stupid mistakes. I hope that the game on Wednesday was a turnaround for us. We prepared very well for the next game. We want to win, and we want to keep the three points here in Chicago. And I think then it doesn’t look that bad in the table.”
Hungry Like the Wolf
Jhon Durán followed up his two-goal performance against the Crew by picking up MLS Player of the Week honors, the youngest Fire player to ever win the award (18 years 212 days), and the second-youngest player in club history with a brace, next to DaMarcus Beasley (18 years, 98 days) who did it back in August 2000. Durán was fouled left and right by the Crew. He picked up what Hendrickson called a “slight ankle injury” in the game, and he’s listed as questionable for Saturday. Still, he’s probably a good bet to play Saturday against Seattle.
Come Tailgate with Us!
The Fire travel to Vancouver next weekend to face the Whitecaps, who just picked up Fire midfielder Fabian Herbers’ podcast partner Julian Gressel in a surprise trade with D.C. United. Chicago is back home July 30, playing host to Atlanta United at 4 p.m., in the first match of a Soldier Field doubleheader–the Chicago Red Stars host the San Diego Wave in the second match.
At CHGO, we love a party. So we’re taking this doubleheader as a great excuse to have one. Come hang out with us on top of the Waldron Deck starting at 2 p.m. or so. Let’s have some fun, and hope that both teams can pull off a win that day.
How to Watch
Chicago Firevs. Seattle Sounders
MLS Match Day #21 | Saturday, July 16 | Soldier Field, Chicago
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Streaming: CF97 Live (available for free at ChicagoFire.com or the Chicago Fire mobile app for fans watching within 75 miles of Soldier Field)
Out of Market Streaming: ESPN+
Talent: Arlo White (play-by-play), Tony Meola (color commentator), Tyler Terens (inquisitive, insightful sideline reporter and bourbon enthusiast)