Fire By The Numbers

Oduro goes for Golden Boot as Fire push for MLS Playoffs

Jeff Crandall /

Over the span of about four hours last Tuesday, the Chicago Fire’s 2011 season was turned on its head.

From the press box in Century Link Field, I watched as the LA Galaxy sort of dogged it against Fire playoff contenders New York prior to that night’s U.S. Open Cup Final. Red Bull took a 2-0 result over the Galaxy while we all know what happened with the Fire.

The club’s playoff gap turned from three points to six as the team returned to Chicago trophy-less to make a final push for the postseason. The team with the lowest amount of points still eligible to qualify, the road to the playoffs for the Fire is tough, simply put they need to win all three remaining matches and hope for a little help.

The good thing: winning three straight games to qualify for the playoffs isn’t without precedence in the league…

2 – The number of teams that won their last three regular season matches to finish inside the MLS Cup playoff bubble. The Dallas Burn accomplished this feat in 1999, edging all three of their final regular season games by one goal to qualify for the post season.

The Kansas City Wizards became the second team to accomplish the feat in 2008 as they moved past the likes of New York, Colorado and Dallas with three matches remaining to take one of the final two MLS Cup Wild Card berths that year.

1 – The Fire have only once before won their final three regular season matches. Coming in 2000, the team was already well on its way to qualifying for the playoffs as they finished runners-up for the Supporter’s Shield, en route to finishing runners-up at MLS Cup 2000.

12 – The number of goals Dominic Oduro has on the season, leaving him just two behind Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Wondolowski and Thierry Henry in the Budweiser MLS Golden Boot Race.

In what has been a career season for the Ghanaian striker, Dom’s road to the Golden Boot won’ t be easy when you consider he’s only once scored more than one goal in an MLS match, in a 2-1 win for Dallas over Real Salt Lake on May 24, 2008.

His drive for the Golden Boot became more complicated Monday when he left training with a 105-degree fever, leaving him in doubt for Wednesday’s Brimstone Cup clash vs. his former team.

99 – The number of MLS Regular Season matches both Fire veteran defenders Cory Gibbs and Dan Gargan sit on, heading into Wednesday night’s match.

For Gibbs, his first 21 appearances came as a member of Saturday night’s opponents, FC Dallas (then known as the Dallas Burn in 2004) before he jumped back across the pond to play for Dutch giants Feyenoord in early 2005. Along with Wednesday night marking his 100th MLS appearance, it will also tie his MLS career best for 25 games played, hit last season with New England.

A more recent addition to the Fire, in just seven matches Dan Gargan has solidified his spot as the team’s starting right back since joining via a trade with Toronto in late July.

9 – The number of seasons the Brimstone Cup has stayed in Dallas since the Fire won the inaugural edition back in 2001. Since then, FC Dallas has won the season series seven times, with the two sides tying twice (2003, 2009), keeping the Cup with the current holders.

Having tied 1-1 in the season opener back on March 19 in Frisco, a win by either side Wednesday night will clinch the 2011 title, with a draw keeping the Cup in Dallas for a 10th straight year.

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.