With four matches to go, time running out for the Fire

With four matches to go, time running out for the Fire originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Fire travel to New York to take on the Red Bulls in what is yet another match between two sides vying for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Chicago is mired in a seven-game winless streak and are desperate for a win if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Fire drew last time out against the New England Revolution at Soldier Field. While it wasn’t a win, the team managed to score twice, breaking a five-game scoreless streak. It’s a performance, attacking wise, they can carry against the Red Bulls.

“It’s good to have gotten the two goals and I think we were a little bit unlucky with some of the bounces for them to get back into the game,” Frank Klopas said. “But I thought we had really good moments. We created those two goals but then we had other opportunities and I think, again, some decision making, execution need to be a little bit better.”

Picking up a point last time out wasn’t the worst result but it also didn’t do much to help the Fire in the standings. With only four games to go, the Fire need to pick up all three points.

“All the way to the end now, every match is almost like a final. I think for every team who is in a similar situation to us. Everyone’s fighting for that playoff spot,” Klopas said.

Starting with the Red Bulls, the Fire’s remaining four matches are all against opponents who are also fighting for those final playoff spots. In that sense, every game is like a final. One slip-up could mark the end of playoff aspirations.

A sentiment that filters through all the way to the players.

“Every game from now on will be a final and it starts on Saturday against New York,” said center-back Rafael Czichos. “It’s going to be a tough game against a very good team that always plays with a high intensity. We know that. But like I said, it’s going to be a final and if we want to reach our goals we have to win there.”

The Fire will be without arguably their best player and difference maker in Brian Gutierrez.

Gutierrez suffered a knee injury and had to be subbed out against the New England Revolution. While it appears the injury isn’t severe as initially feared, he is unlikely to feature in New York despite being listed as questionable in the Fire’s availability report.

As things currently stand, the Fire are three points behind New York City FC and Montréal for the final playoff spots. However, there are also two teams in front of the Fire chasing those same spots. A win in New York would put the Fire ahead of the Red Bulls in the standings.

With time winding down, the result is all that’s going to matter for Chicago. Win and keep playoff hopes alive or lose and it’ll be one step close to another season toiling near the bottom of the conference.


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