BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Though the Fire began a stretch of 11 matches in 49 days back on June 2 vs. D.C. United, the team may find itself in the most pivotal stretch of the season over the next seven days.
That run features a home date Wednesday vs. Colorado, an away trip on Saturday to Columbus and an Open Cup quarterfinal next Wednesday vs. USL-PRO’s Orlando City at Toyota Park.
NYARKO: "Our goal is to win the Open Cup."
All three games have to be viewed as winnable by the Men in Red and should they come away with three victories in a week, they’ll find themselves with six valuable league points and just two wins away from lifting a record fifth U.S. Open Cup title.
“It’s the time in the season point where you can’t lose points,” winger Patrick Nyarko told Chicago-Fire.com. “It’s crunch time. Games keep coming and if you can pick up points you’re pretty much in good shape.”
The Fire should be heartened by the fact that in six visits, the Colorado Rapids have never won at Toyota Park (0-4-2).
Add to that the 2010 MLS Cup winners are coming off a contentious 2-1 home defeat vs. San Jose (their first in six matches), in which leading scorer Atiba Harris was sent off, and you might say the Fire are catching the Rapids at just the right time.
“I think we have a lot of home games in this middle part of the season and we need to pick up the maximum where we can,” said Nyarko. “It’s going to be tough with three games in a week -- its hard but guys know what it takes and what we need to do to get those points.”
At the beginning of the month Fire head coach Frank Klopas said he would need to rely on the depth of his squad to navigate through the busy early summer schedule.
The third-year head coach has mainly shuffled players in and out of the midfield over the team’s last five competitive matches and has been rewarded with a 3-0-2 record in that stretch.
“[The squad rotation] has to work out,” said Nyarko. “We’ve been on an okay run -- we haven’t lost a game in a while and so keeping guys fresh is going to be important. We have very good depth in our team and the more we can keep rotating guys and keeping guys fresh the better.
“I feel like everyone can help this team get a result.”