The Chicago Fire need a miracle. Sitting in 11th place, 10 points behind Seattle for the eighth and final playoff spot with just seven games remaining, the Fire are on the brink of missing the postseason for just the second time in team history.
They need wins. And they need them starting Saturday, when they host the Seattle Sounders in a do-or-die match at Toyota Park.
“We got ourselves in this position now we need to get ourselves out of it,” Fire midfielder John Thorrington told MLSsoccer.com this week. “Not making the playoffs isn’t acceptable to this organization. It’s not a familiar feeling for us but these are moments where big players need to show up and show themselves and it’s got to start on Saturday.”
The last time the Fire played Seattle, at Qwest Field on Aug. 28, they conceded in second-half stoppage time to fall 2-1.
“We had one costly mistake in the first half and just a tragedy at the end of the game,” Thorrington said of that match. “I think if we walk out of there with a point, we say that’s probably a fair result and one we can build on. But as has happened all too often this season we walk away with our head in our hands giving up a late goal.”
Seattle forward Fredy Montero scored both of Seattle’s goals in the sides’ first meeting. The Colombian gave the Fire back line fits all night, challenging them with his pace, dribbling skills and lethal finishing.
“I thought Montero was dangerous against us,” Thorrington said. “We need to make sure we stop him; we can’t let him have a good night. I think a lot of their play runs through him and he scored the two goals against us last time and we’re going to do our best to make sure it’s not a successful night for him and their other guys.”
One factor working in Chicago’s favor is the schedule. The Fire come into the match rested, having resumed training on Wednesday after playing at Salt Lake last Saturday. Seattle come in jetlagged. The Sounders lost in devastating fashion at Mexican club Monterrey in CONCACAF Champions league play Wednesday night, conceding three times in the final 20 minutes to fall 3-2 in Mexico.
Despite all of that, Thorrington was quick to deny that the scheduling gives Chicago any sort of marked advantage on Saturday.
“I think at this stage of the season when you get to do-or-die crunch time, your aches and pains, your tired legs, all of that goes out the window,” Thorrington said. “Your whole season’s on the line in these games so I certainly don’t think we have any advantage because of [scheduling].”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.