FIVE THINGS: The Playoff and Golden Boot picture heading into Sunday's finale at Red Bull
One final day of matches to decide who goes to the MLS Cup playoffs and who calls it a day on 2013. The Chicago Fire are in New York for Sunday's biggest match, watch LIVE at 3:30pm CT on My50 / Time Warner Cable Sports Wisconsin and at 4pm on UniMas and La Ley 107.9FM!
Five Things You Should Know...
Scenarios – How do the Fire get in today?
We’ve called a lot of games the biggest of the year this season… That may be a product of starting 2-7-1 in your first 10 matches. Still, that stat produced last week about a slow start and playoff qualification still stands today if the Fire can grab just a point at Red Bull Arena.
With Saturday’s results in Philadelphia and Toronto, there are now a number of ways the Fire can get in, even if the team loses. Click here for those and how they would finish in each instance.
Plain and simple, a win or draw at Red Bull Arena this afternoon is enough for the Fire to qualify for the postseason.
Still, Sporting KC’s win at Philadelphia on Saturday makes the Fire’s task with New York more difficult as the Red Bulls chase their first-ever piece of hardware in the MLS Supporters Shield. Only a New York win will get them there
Magee Golden Boot
Marco Di Vaio and Montreal were held scoreless in their 1-0 defeat at Toronto FC on Saturday, putting Mike Magee into pole position for the MLS Golden Boot. Though he remains tied on 20 goals with the Italian heading into today’s game, the tiebreaker is assists with the Fire forward racking up four to Di Vaio’s two this year.
- READ: MLS Goal Scoring Leaders
If Magee can bag one goal vs. New York, he’d like be the clear winner, though he’ll have to wait to totally celebrate the honor as Vancouver’s Camilo sits on 19 (and six assists) with the Whitecaps hosting the Rapids at 7pm CT. If Magee doesn’t score and Camilo bags one, the Brazilian would take the Golden Boot crown.
In the “highly unlikely but just enough of a thing to have to mention” category, if Robbie Keane, who sits on 15 goals and 11 assists, scores five in the league’s finale at Seattle tonight, he would win the Golden Boot Crown.
Whether or not Mike Magee wins the Golden Boot, there seems to be some early, popular sentiment around his campaign for league MVP. On Friday, seven of eight MLSsoccer.com editors put their support behind Magee, while pre-eminent American soccer journalist and friend of Chicago-Fire.com Steven Goff, publicly casted his ballot for the Fire forward as well…
The Captain’s Armband
With Fire vice-captain Jeff Larentowicz suspended for this match, one question this week was who would wear the captain’s armband in the event that club captain Logan Pause didn’t start in his place.
Earlier this season, long-time Fire defender Gonzalo Segares wore the armband when Larentowicz was removed in the 70th minute of a 2-2 draw vs. Portland on June 8. He also captained the side in July’s 3-2 friendly loss to Club America.
Asked Thursday if the coaches had talked at all about their choice in the event Pause doesn’t start, Segares said, “We haven’t talked about that. We’re definitely losing a big leader in Jeff but other guys are ready to step in and do the job. Whoever it is, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to have 11 players that are going to be ready – everyone is mature enough to be a leader.”
Regular Season Finales – A Fire History
On Friday I wrote about the three previous times the Fire have needed a result on the final day of the regular season in order to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs.
Fire fans should have some confidence in the fact that the team is unbeaten in its last seven regular season finales, going 6-0-1 since last losing 1-0 at New England in 2005. The team is also 9-4-2 all-time in the final match of the regular season, with other losses coming in 1998, 2003 and 2004.
The Fire are also 23-12-9 all-time vs. Red Bull and 3-1-3 in their last seven matches with the only loss coming in last July’s mid-day, midweek 100+ degree debacle of a match at Red Bull Arena.
Asked this week if he feels history is on the team’s side heading into the match Segares said, “History doesn’t matter. What matters is what’s going to happen on Sunday. Red Bull is on a very good roll right now, they’re fighting for the Supporters Shield. We know they’re going to line up their best squad and they’re in the same situation that we are. They need three points to get a trophy and we need three points to get in the playoffs. That’s all there is.”
Broadcast Opening and Info
Sunday’s regular season finale will be shown in A LOT of countries around the globe. Our international fans should click here for tune-in information.
Closer to home the game will air nationally on UniMas at 4pm CT while local coverage begins at 3:30pm CT with the TrueCar pre-game show on My50 and Time Warner Cable Sports Wisconsin.
Dan Kelly and Kevin will open today’s broadcast with a look back on the Fire’s 2013 regular season campaign, from wretched beginnings, to Mike Magee and Bakary Soumare’s acquisitions and all the other events that have led the Fire to a chance of finishing as high as third in the East today.
Catch a sneak peak of that piece below: