Results in MLS can be razor thin as the Chicago Fire have well learned over the past two weeks.
Nine days ago at Toyota Park, the team seemingly played well enough to earn three points against fellow playoff contenders Houston only to see a 90th minute goal from Adam Moffat spoil two points in the postseason race.
Last Saturday the Fire battled and looked they would earn their first point in Cascadia since 2009. That wasn’t to be as an unfortunate 89th minute own goal credited to Gonzalo Segares saw the team come away from Seattle empty-handed.
“We were very frustrated, there’ve been tough results the past few games,” Segares told Chicago-Fire.com on Monday. “Those situations are hard because you feel like in both games we could have had more than what we got.”
Then in the wacky spirit of this year’s Eastern Conference playoff race, all three teams around the Fire – New England, Houston and Philadelphia – also lost Sunday, leaving all to play for as the Men in Red do a pivotal double dip of matches at Toronto and home vs. the Revolution this week.
“Sometimes you can’t make it up -- we come in today and realize we’re still in the hunt with the results from Sunday and everything is still the same. It’s very important to forget about what happened Saturday. I felt we did good enough to come out with points but now we have to regroup again which is the beauty of having a game Wednesday.”
With Wednesday’s match at Toronto FC being the first meeting between the sides this season, the Fire should take confidence in their 2012 sweep of the Reds as well as the fact that the team is winless in their last five league matches.
Just as important in the playoff race, the match exists as the game in hand the Fire hold on both New England and Houston.
Segares recognized other league results have gone the Fire’s way even as the team has dropped points but acknowledged there’s much less room for error with a big opportunity for movement up the table this week.
“It’s definitely a must-win on Wednesday and if we win the game we’ll be in fifth place, one point ahead of [New England and Houston].”
A victory Wednesday would indeed push the team into fifth spot level on games played with the Revolution and Dynamo, while another win Saturday would take further points off New England. That combined with a Houston and Philadelphia draw in their pivotal match the same day would see the Fire move into fourth place with six games remaining.
“We’ve been close a few times this month. We’re almost there and we’re keeping a strong mentality -- that’s what’s important as we tackle this week.”