It's all context. New England's surprise 1-0 road win over Montreal heaps pressure on the Fire to get a result in tonight's Brimstone Cup matchup against FC Dallas. The basic situation is bad enough - two back of Philadelphia and the Revs with three to play - but some other context makes it even worse: Columbus, weakened by the probable absence of their controller-mind (Frederico Higuain, hip problem) will be badly disadvantaged in the home-and-home series against New England, which is the final pair of games the teams will play.
The prospect of the Revs and the Crew closing out with consecutive games seemed delightful a couple weeks ago, when the best prospect involved each team needing points and neither getting satisfaction. Now, though, it looks like a chance for New England to bounce into the playoffs strong. Absent Higuain (and the previously shelved Eddie Gaven), the Crew lack creative spark. It's not hard to imagine, far from a bloody pair of draws, that the Revolution should be able to gather four points from those two games.
And it's that number, four, which gives us pause. That's the context. The Fire are two back with three to play; imagining New England takes four points from the home-and-home, Chicago will need seven points from their final three matches to edge them out. Meaning there's two ways home: Win all three, or win two and draw one.
That said, my always-useless prediction: Fire pull this out, 2-0, and keep hope alive. Dallas has a difficult time breaking down organized defenses; if the Men in
Red Navy can not give the way in dangerous areas, FCD will get stagnant. Goals for Anangono and Magee, again, and the story becomes "can Chicago win out?"
As always, check back here about an hour before kickoff for lineups, etc.