In late August last summer, the high-flying Fire were getting set to host D.C. United. Coming off a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Rapids at Toyota Park the previous week, many thought Chicago had turned a corner in regards to its home form.
As it turned out, that wasn’t the case. The Fire played uninspired, ineffective soccer against D.C, resulting in a 1-0 home loss that dropped the team’s home record to 4-4-4.
"It's screwed up for us," said Fire defender C.J. Brown after that loss. "We can't figure it out. We're not doing what we should be doing at home and we're disappointed. We disappointed the fans, they come out to see us play and we seem to make it look really, really bad somehow.”
Ultimately, the Fire finished the 2009 regular season with a 5-4-6 home record -- third worst in the league. The team needs to improve on that mark in 2010, and it’ll get its first chance to do so on Saturday night when the Fire host San Jose in the Toyota Park opener.
Added emphasis will be placed on the Fire’s home form this year because of the fact that the Fire have gotten off to a relatively slow start away from Toyota Park in the early stages of this season. The team is 0-1-1 on the road and, if those results are anything to go by, it looks like the Fire will have a tough time matching last season’s 6-3-6 away record.
If Chicago picks up more points at Toyota Park this year, a dip in road form won’t be a problem. But if the home struggles continue, Carlos de los Cobos & Co. could be in for a tough year.
But there’s every reason to expect the Fire to do well at home this year. Toyota Park provides the team with one of the better home-field advantages in MLS and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to take advantage of it -- starting this week against San Jose -- to notch a solid amount of home wins.