The Fire got a boost to their playoff chances thanks to Toronto FC on Saturday. The Reds closed out a surprise 1-0 win over Montreal to possibly complete the Impact’s late season freefall and give the Fire a chance to vault into the third spot in the conference and skip the knockout round of the playoffs. Wins by New England and Houston, combined with any points at all for Chicago, would see Montreal on the outside looking in for the postseason. Chicago now needs only a draw to make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the pressure kicked up on New York after Sporting KC won against Philadelphia to vault into the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race. Jack McInerney’s late goal for the Union knotted things up 1-1, and appeared to ease the pressure on the Red Bulls. If that score held up, New York would have come into the game tomorrow needing only a draw to secure the first major trophy in team history. But Lawrence Olum’s stoppage time goal gave Kansas City a 2-1 win and a two point lead in the race for the Shield. New York now needs a win and nothing less to take the Supporters' Shield.
Which means this could happen…
CHICAGO CLINCH #3 SEED IF:
--Fire win in New York.
--Fire draw in New York AND New England draw or lose in Columbus AND Houston draw or lose in D.C.
If one of these scenarios works out, not only does Chicago clinch the third seed, but they also ensure they will face New York in the conference semifinals. For those of you scoring at home, that means New York would be out for blood in the playoffs against the team that continued their no-trophies-for-you curse. It would also give Chicago a chance to ruin everything in the world forever for New York twice in the space of two weeks.
CHICAGO CLINCH A PLAYOFF SPOT IF:
--Fire win or draw in New York.
--Houston lose or draw in D.C.
--New England lose or draw in Columbus.
The Fire will know about the Houston game by kickoff, and will have a halftime score from Columbus by that time as well.
CHICAGO MISS THE PLAYOFFS IF:
--Fire lose in New York AND Houston win in D.C. AND New England win in Columbus.
To end the comeback the Fire have made this season with a loss that knocks them completely out of the playoffs would be brutal. But the pressure has eased somewhat. Chicago need an awful lot to go wrong on the final day to miss the postseason, and are in the best possible position to continue the remarkable run they’ve had since Mike Magee came to town.
Oh yeah, about him.
Montreal’s result means that Magee remains tied with Marco DiVaio in the Golden Boot race, with Camilo Sanvezzo one goal back heading into his final game on Sunday night.
It’s about as ideal a situation as the Fire could have hoped for coming into the final day of play, and it’s a situation any Fire fan would have given at least a favored family pet for after the first 11 games. But with third place suddenly there for the taking, the stakes have gone way up for Chicago. A draw puts them in the postseason, but a win would be an emphatic exclamation point that the team we’ve seen the final two thirds of this season is a real threat to go deep in the playoffs.