Banner: "Our confidence is pretty high"

Fire go to Houston bolstered by unbeaten streak, new signings

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – A three-game MLS unbeaten streak and the transfer window additions of Freddie Ljungberg, Nery Castillo and Gonzalo Segares have the Chicago Fire thinking playoffs.

Currently trailing eighth-seeded Toronto FC by two points, the Fire have a great opportunity to further edge their way into the postseason picture this Saturday, when they take on the struggling Dynamo at Houston's Robertson Stadium.

“I think this is the perfect time for us to get hot and get on a nice winning streak,” Fire midfielder Mike Banner told MLSsoccer.com Friday. “Right now, our confidence is pretty high.”

The Fire enjoyed a decent amount of success playing the ball on the ground in Wednesday night’s 2-1 win against New England, and they’ll likely use that same tactic against a Houston side that has conceded seven goals in their last three MLS matches.

“The key focus all season has been to keep the ball as much as possible,” Banner said. “Obviously, when we keep the ball, that means the other team is chasing and getting tired. So, if we keep the ball and keep possession, [we have a better chance] of scoring."

One player who should be a significant factor on Saturday night is Ljungberg. The Swedish midfielder/forward, acquired on July 30 in a trade with Seattle, was outstanding in Wednesday night's win. The former Arsenal man played a key role in the build up to both of Chicago's goals and was the lynchpin in the attack, and the Fire should frequently play off of him against the Dynamo.

“Freddie’s a playmaker, so we always look to get him the ball,” Banner said. “When we get him the ball, he’s able to find players in tough positions where most players wouldn’t be able to...I think he’s a big part of why we’ve been winning.”