Fire Clinch Playoff Spot; Break For FIFA International Play

A look at the week ahead for the Men In Red

Sean Johnson

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

After posting a 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon, the Chicago Fire (17-10-5; 56 points) clinched a 2012 MLS Cup Playoff berth. The Men in Red will take a break from MLS play as 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying resumes this week around the world.
 
The Fire’s victory Saturday, combined with the 1-1 draw between Sporting Kansas City and the Columbus Crew Sunday, ensured that the 17-win Fire will return to postseason play for the first time since 2009. The Fire were the second team in the Eastern Conference to qualify for the second season.
 
The Men in Red return to action against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes. The Fire will close out the MLS regular season at Toyota Park against Eastern Conference rival D.C. United on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 3:00 p.m. CT (NBC Sports Network/97.5 ESPN Deportes). Advance tickets are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire, by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com or Ticketmaster.
 
CHICAGO FIRE TRAINING SCHEDULE: Oct. 8 – Oct. 15
 
Monday, Oct. 8: 15th Anniversary Celebration - Chicago History Museum (1601 North Clark Street) – 7:00 p.m. CT
Tuesday, Oct. 9: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
Wednesday, Oct. 10: First Team Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
RESERVE GAME – Chicago Fire at FC Dallas – FC Dallas Sports Park– 10:00 a.m. CT
Thursday, Oct. 11: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
Friday, Oct. 12: Off
Saturday, Oct. 13: RESERVE GAME – Chicago Fire at Houston Dynamo – Houston Dynamo Sports Park – 10:00 a.m. CT
Sunday, Oct. 14: Off    
Monday, Oct. 15: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
 
*Training is open to the media. Fire players and coaches will be made available immediately following training.
^Training times are subject to change. Please contact Brendan Hannan at 720.937.8962 for media requests.
 
FRANK’S TURNAROUND SEASON
Since having his interim tag removed last November, Fire head coach Frank Klopas has transformed the team into a squad that is within striking distance of the Eastern Conference crown.
 
In his first full season as head coach, Klopas has led the Fire to a 17-10-5 (56 points) record this season with a .609 winning percentage. This is the first time the Fire have had a 17-win season since 1998 (20 wins), 1999 (18 wins) and 2000 (17 wins).
 
With 56 points, the 2012 season already marks the third-highest point total in Fire history. The only two seasons in which the Men in Red accumulated more points were in 1998 (60 points) and 2000 (57 points), coincidentally both years where the Fire advanced to the MLS Cup Final.
 
Klopas has led the Men in Red in 55 matches. Through his first 50 games the second-year manager has been one of the most productive coaches in MLS history, ranking third on the list of All-time Top 5 Coaches through first 50 games in terms of points earned in the post-shootout era (2000 and Beyond).
1) Ray Hudson (MIA 2000-01) 27-17-6 (87 pts.)
2) Frank Yallop (SJ 2001-02) – 27-17-6 (87 pts.)
3) Frank Klopas (CHI 2011-12) 22-13-15 (81 pts.)
4) Tom Soehn (DCU 2007-08) 24-17-8 (80 points)
5) Robert Warzycha (CLB 2005, 2009-10) 22-13-15 (81 pts.)
6) Hans Backe (NY 2010-11) 21-13-16 (79 pts.)
 
With two matches remaining in the regular season, the Fire sit just three points behind conference-leading Sporting Kansas City.
 
CHICAGO FIRE CLINCH SPOT IN 2012 MLS CUP PLAYOFFS

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Sunday that the club secured a spot in the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Fire's 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls Saturday afternoon combined with the 1-1 draw between Sporting Kansas City and the Columbus Crew Sunday ensured that the Men in Red will return to postseason play for the twelfth time in 15 seasons and first since 2009.
 
Fire supporters can lock-in 2012 MLS Cup Playoff tickets on Monday, Oct. 8, the club’s 15th Anniversary, by purchasing new, or renewing, Season Tickets for the 2013 season. Group tickets will also go on sale Monday, Oct. 8 at 1:00 p.m. CT and are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire or by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com.
 
2012 Chicago Fire Season Ticket Holders have until Monday, Oct. 15th to contact the club’s Season Ticket Services department at 708-496-6800 or seasonticketservices@chicago-fire.com to guarantee seats for every 2012 home playoff game at Toyota Park.
 
Head Coach Frank Klopas has led the Fire to a 17-10-5 record this season and second place in the Eastern Conference with 56 points, just 3 points behind conference-leading Sporting Kansas City.
 
The Fire have participated in the playoffs 11 times in their history, reaching the MLS Cup Final in 1998, 2000 and 2003. The Fire made history as the first and only MLS expansion side to win the Domestic Double in 1998 with victories in both the MLS Cup Final and the U.S. Open Cup Final.
 
The Fire will host their first MLS Cup Playoff match at Toyota Park on a date that will be determined based on where the Fire finish in the final MLS Regular Season standings.
 
Individual tickets will be available at www.Ticketmaster.com beginning on Friday, Oct. 19.
 
CHICAGO FIRE TO CELEBRATE 15th ANNIVERSARY
On Monday, Oct. 8 the Chicago Fire Soccer Club will continue the celebration of the Fire’s 15th Anniversary. The October 8th Anniversary Planning Committee in association with Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters’ Association of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club Fire will host the 15th Anniversary Celebration at the Chicago History Museum, with proceeds benefiting the Chicago Fire Foundation. Former Fire greats that are scheduled to appear at the event include Peter Nowak, Lubos Kubik, Chris Armas, Ante Razov, Jesse Marsch, Frank Klopas and many others.
 
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club was founded on Oct. 8, 1997, the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. Since the first season in which the Fire won the historic “Double”, winning both the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup in 1998, the Fire have amassed a rich history which includes a record four U.S. Open Cup trophies, the 2003 Supporters Shield and three MLS Conference Championships.
 
ALVARO FERNANDEZ TO REPRESENT URUGUAY IN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Fire Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez has been called up by the Uruguayan National Team for FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying matches against Argentina at Estadio Malvinas Argentina in Mendoza, Argentina on Oct. 12 and against Bolivia at Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz, Bolivia on Oct. 16. Fernandez will return to Chicago prior to the Fire’s match against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 20.
 
Fernandez, 26, made his first international appearance for Uruguay on April 1, 2009 in a World Cup Qualifying match against Chile and has since been capped 11 times. Fernandez appeared in four matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, helping Uruguay to a fourth place finish. Fernandez last appeared for Uruguay on November, 11, 2011 in a World Cup Qualifier against Chile.  
 
Since joining the Fire on July 27 in a trade from Seattle Sounders FC, Fernandez has tallied two goals in 11 appearances for the Men in Red, helping the team to a 8-3-0 record since joining the club.
 
CHICAGO FIRE TOP NEW YORK RED BULLS 2-0
The Chicago Fire (17-10-5; 56 points) gave a complete team performance and used two Sherjill MacDonald goals to defeat the New York Red Bulls (15-9-8, 53 points) 2-0 at Red Bull Arena Saturday afternoon. The Fire jumped back into second place in the tightly contested Eastern Conference with the win in front of 21,157 fans and a national NBC audience.
 
Both teams felt out the match throughout most of the first half. New York threatened in the 27th minute when Thierry Henry brought down a Kenny Cooper pass with his chest and volleyed a shot on goal only for Fire defender Arne Friedrich to block the attempt.
 
With the first half winding down, the Fire nearly took the lead in the 44th minute. Jalil Anibaba lashed a well-placed cross into the box, finding Alvaro Fernandez alone at the edge of the six-yard box. The Uruguayan international rose to head the ball and placed his effort just over the crossbar leaving the two teams tied at 0-0 going into the break.
 
The Fire broke the deadlock in the 65th minute with a tidy bit of passing in the midfield. Friedrich pushed forward and found Chris Rolfe at the midfield the line. The sly forward took a touch and found MacDonald with a perfectly weighted ball through the heart of the Red Bull defense. MacDonald charged to meet the ball in-stride and fired a low, driven blast to beat Red Bulls ‘keeper Anthony Robles and give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.
 
The home side pressed for the equalizer just moments later as Joel Lindpere raced into space on the left flank. The Estonian international found the head of Kenny Cooper in the Fire penalty area. Cooper’s glancing header whizzed toward the back post but drifted just wide, keeping the Fire ahead on 71 minutes.
 
Chicago doubled its lead with a similar through ball and a similar finish. This time Logan Pause found Paladini with space in the offensive half. Paladini took a touch and led MacDonald with a pin-point pass in behind the Red Bull defense. MacDonald beat two Red Bull defenders to the ball and poked the ball under Robles for his second on the day to give the Fire a 2-0 lead through 79 minutes.
 
New York, trailing by two goals at home, attempted to push the game, however, the Fire’s defensive shape couldn’t be broken as Sean Johnson and the Fire earned its fifth shutout of the season.
 
FIRE IN THE NEWS
 
Where There’s Fire There’s A Good Promotion… - Joe Favorito - Sports Marketing & PR Roundup - October 1, 2012
http://joefavorito.com/2012/10/01/where-theres-fire-theres-a-good-promotion/
 
Fire lock down playoff spot - Len Ziehm - CSNChicago.com - October 6, 2012
http://www.csnchicago.com/soccer-chicago-fire/news/Fire-lock-down-playoff-spot-?blockID=784983&feedID=5674
 
Fire clinches MLS playoff berth - Jack McCarthy - Chicago Tribune - October 7, 2012
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/soccer/ct-spt-1008-fire-chicago--20121008,0,367812.story
 
Five best MLS fanthems - Elliott Turner - Guardian.co.uk - October 3, 2012
http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/oct/03/five-best-mls-fanthems-supporter-songs?newsfeed=true
 
Can Austin Berry lock up Rookie of the Year on Saturday? - Steve Davis - NBCSports.com - October 5, 2012
http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/2012/10/05/can-austin-berry-lock-up-rookie-of-the-year-on-saturday/
 
CHICAGO FIRE TEAM WRITER, JEFF CRANDALL FEATURES ON CHICAGO-FIRE.COM
 
Six Things to Takeaway from Saturday’s Win at New York – October 7, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/10/six-things-takeaway-saturdays-win-new-york
 
Saturday vs. Red Bulls Gives Fire Chance to Bounce Back Says Captain Pause – October 5, 2012

http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/10/saturday-vs-red-bull-gives-fire-chance-bounce-back-says-captain-pause
 
Disappointing loss forces Fire to soul-search and regroup ahead of New York – October 4, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/10/disappointing-loss-forces-fire-soul-search-and-regroup-ahead-new-york
 
All-In Podcast with Paul Cadwell and Ron Stern – October 2, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/10/all-podcast-paul-cadwell-and-ron-stern