September by the Numbers

Chicago Fire Team Writer Jeff Crandall looks at some significant numbers as they relate to the Fire in September, the team’s current form as well as other intricacies…

* 1 player – With his 88th minute free kick in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy, Collins John became the only player to have scored in both matches for his team against LA and also the only player to score multiple goals against the club this season…

*2 players– The number of players on the current Fire roster that have played for other MLS teams – the lowest total among all 16 clubs, the next closest are New England and Chivas USA with four each. If you didn’t know who the two players are… Brian McBride (Columbus 1996-2003), Freddie Ljungberg (Seattle 2009-part of this year).

It says a lot of about the club’s belief in retaining the players they’ve drafted… Going back to the selection of C.J. Brown in the 1998 Supplemental Draft, the Fire currently roster 13 players they’ve picked up through the various incarnations of MLS' selection procedures.

The number rises to 14 if you count recent Home Grown player signing Victor Pineda, who became the first player to rise through the club’s Academy system when he signed with the first team on August 17.

In total, 58% of the current roster has come through these two entry structures…

$250 – The amount of money Fire left back Gonazlo Segares was fined by the league for his clocking of Leonardo in the Galaxy penalty area Saturday afternoon. The Costa Rican international was also suspended an additional game, meaning he’ll not only miss tonight’s match against Toronto but is also out of Saturday’s match at Philadelphia.

*82 points – If August has been the club’s historical bread and butter, September hasn’t been quite as kind. The Fire have racked up 113 points all-time in the eighth month of the year but have only totaled 82 points in the month of September – the lowest point total of all complete months the club has played…

It’s fair to mention though that before 2003, the MLS Cup playoffs actually began in mid-to-late September. Since 2003, the Fire are 14-7-8 in late summer/early autumn, earning 50 points or 61% of the club’s all-time points in September.

*6-7 wins – Since MLS changed its playoff format in 2007 to allow for the top two teams in each conference and the next best four to qualify for the postseason, the lowest point total a team qualified for the playoffs with was New York’s 39 in 2008. With more teams in the league, more points to be had and the number of draws lower than in years past, the point threshold for playoff entry is likely higher this season.

Currently sitting on 25 points with 10 matches left, it’s likely the Fire will need six or seven wins or 18-21 points from the last third of the season. It’s certainly doable but the team will need to improve on it’s home-stretch form from the last few years if it’s going to happen. From 2007-09 the Fire have failed to earn 18 or more points from their last ten games, earning 17 (2007), 14 (2008) and 13 (2009).

Since the league moved to the 3-1-0 point format in 2000, the Fire have earned 18 points in their last 10 matches only three times:  2000 (23 points), 2001 (20) and 2006 (19).

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