BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - The Chicago Fire locker room was dejected after a 1-1 tie against D.C. United, which felt like a loss because it meant the Fire would have to play Houston on Wednesday in the Knockout Round.
The Fire's last month has been full of disappointment, with Chicago registering just four points in five games after tallying 21 in their previous eight. In a do-or-die home game against Houston on Wednesday, the Fire feel like they have a new opportunity to gain momentum and get back on track.
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"Before the game, we were saying we didn't want to play on Wednesday," Rolfe told MLSsoccer.com. "That was our driving force for that game. But now that we're there, it doesn't matter. We're playing at home, and it's an opportunity to get back in form."
Rolfe knows well that a small amount of momentum can go a long way.
In the Fire's last playoff appearance in 2009, he certainly didn't expect to see Real Salt Lake in the Eastern Conference Final after the fifth-place team in the west sneaked into the playoffs on the last day. Salt Lake won MLS Cup that year after going 2-3-1 over the last six weeks of the season.
"They believed in themselves and they believed in what they were doing," Rolfe said. "It doesn't matter your seeding at this point, if you make it into the playoffs, you've got a chance."
The Fire don't feel badly about their overall performance on Saturday. If it weren't for several big saves by D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid, Chicago would be playing against New York this weekend.
Klopas pressed in that game, subbing in attacking players in a playoff-type atmosphere. Despite the result, they feel good about the chances they created heading into Wednesday's all-important game.
"We always want to try to push and win games at home, which we did that game," Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. "There's a lot of positives to look for. We talked for a long time about, one of the goals is to be in the playoffs ... You're in the playoffs and you're playing at home. Every challenge is an opportunity; that's how we look at it."