Nineteen years to the day since the storied 1998 Chicago Fire lifted MLS Cup in Pasadena, the 2017 edition of the Chicago Fire will stage a much-anticipated return to postseason play Wednesday (Oct. 25) at Toyota Park.
As the club gets set to face the New York Red Bulls in the Knockout Round, here's a rundown of some of the most relevant facts and figures from Fire history in the MLS Cup Playoffs:
All-Time Record — In 12 previous trips to the MLS Cup Playoffs, the Fire have compiled an overall postseason record of 21-16-6. The club is (officially) 4-1-1 in home playoff games since moving into Toyota Park; the lone draw ultimately ended in a shootout defeat against Real Salt Lake in the 2009 conference final.
It's Been A While — 2017 marks only the second time that two of MLS' longest-tenured clubs will go head-to-head in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Chicago and New York last met in the postseason back in 2000, when the Fire outlasted the then-MetroStars by going the distance in a best-of-three series. The decisive third game stood in a 2-2 tie when Ante Razov delivered the game-winner in the 88th minute, sending Chicago into the MLS Cup final against Kansas City.
Who Else? — The aforementioned series-clinching goal by Razov is one of 10 playoff goals scored by Razov in his time with the Fire, making him the club's postseason leader. Dema Kovalenko (1999-2002) is second with five.
Familiar Face — Jesse Marsch played and started in 31 postseason games for the Chicago Fire from 1998-2005, the second-most by a field player in club history behind C.J. Brown (35). On Wednesday, Marsch arrives in the Windy City aiming to stamp out the Fire's hopes for a deep playoff run, leading the Red Bulls to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the third time in three seasons at the helm in Harrison. His assistant coach, Chris Armas, logged 29 playoff appearances in his own tremendous tenure with the Fire.
Keeping Score — The Fire have scored 61 all-time goals and conceded 41 in their 43 playoff appearances. Lubos Kubik scored the first postseason goal back in 1998 and midfielder Alex tallied the most recent in 2012. Will it be Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic or another current Fire player who'll be the next to find net in the MLS Cup Playoffs?
Forever Young — Homegrown midfielder Djordje Mihailovic -- who was born just over two weeks after that momentous 1998 MLS Cup victory -- is heading into his first postseason opportunity having started the Fire's final four matches of the regular season, bringing his appearance total to 17 in 2017. And while the great DaMarcus Beasley will retain his title as the youngest Fire player to feature in a postseason game (18 years, 114 days), an MLS Cup Playoffs goal by Mihailovic could make the soon-to-be-19-year-old the youngest Chicago player to score in the postseason. Beasley currently holds the mark (19 years, 146 days) thanks to his tally against the LA Galaxy on Oct. 17, 2001.