Who To Boo: Crew v. Dynamo edition

I know, I know - it's just for tonight. - Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In what promises to be a recurring feature, we take a look at Eastern Conference match ups with an eye toward results which aid the Fire's quest for the playoffs. First up: tonight's match between Columbus and Houston

Sporting events are tribal things, and when one's own tribe is involved there's no difficulty in wishing for an outcome. When the Fire play, it's all simple: We wish to crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their febrile, mouth-breathing fans. We want to win 12-0, with matching hat tricks for three strikers and three goals sprinkled around the field to spread the love. We want the other tribe devastated.

Unfortunately, our Fire haven't played well enough in 2013 to do much crushing or hear much lamenting. If we're to make the playoffs, we're going to need not only to play well, but also to get a bit of help. Plus, the schedule is crazy, as some teams have as many as four games in hand against others. It can all be quite complicated. With 19 tribes, we know that 18 are wrong - but which ones are wrong-er? Which tribe's success will mean good things for the Men in Red?

That's where "Who To Boo" comes into play. We intend these screeds guides as a quick look at MLS matchups not involving the Fire which have the potential to impact Chicago's chances at the playoffs. And we begin, today, with Columbus hosting Houston.

Who to boo: HOUSTON

Tonight's matchup is a no-brainer for Fire fans. As much as it may pain us to recommend rooting for the banana slugs from Cow-Town, any points Houston pick up will increase the pressure on Chicago for their games in hand. Here's the standings right now:

1 Montreal Impact 42 25 1.68 12 7 6 41 35 6 28 15 13 -9
2 New York Red Bulls 42 27 1.56 12 9 6 40 35 5 24 12 16 -7
3 Sporting Kansas City 42 27 1.56 12 9 6 38 27 11 25 11 13 0
4 Philadelphia Union 39 27 1.44 10 8 9 37 37 0 21 6 16 -6
5 New England Revolution 37 26 1.42 10 9 7 35 25 10 21 13 14 -3
6 Houston Dynamo 37 25 1.48 10 8 7 30 29 1 17 8 13 -7
7 Chicago Fire 35 25 1.4 10 10 5 31 35 -4 23 6 8 -10
8 Columbus Crew 29 26 1.12 8 13 5 29 35 -6 14 3 15 -9

A Houston win, on the road, would be a small disaster for the Fire, vaulting them into fifth place on 40 points. The Fire would be five points back of Houston with nine games left, behind in tiebreakers head-to-head and goal difference. Unlike the Fire, Houston has a home-heavy run-in, with five of their final eight games in their sweltering orange terrordome.

A Columbus win would put a tiny bit of heat on la Maquina Roja, but nothing extraordinary. Sure, Cow-town would be within three points of Chicago, but after tonight they'll have only seven games remaining to the Fire's nine. The Crew also have only three home games left after tonight, and one of those is Sept. 21, when we turn Crew Stadium into Firehouse East once again.

In other words, even if Columbus somehow rights its ship under interim coach Brian Bliss, the Fire will still have plenty of opportunities to push them back down the standings toward Toronto and DC. A draw would be much more acceptable than a Dynamo win, but with the Fire on the road six times in their final nine games, the feeling here is that we need everyone above us to drop as many points as possible.

Again, as painful as it is to even think this, Fire supporters should don their muddy overalls, fire up the tractor, and root, root root for the godforsaken Crew. DO IT FOR THE FIRE.

Just make certain you've got plenty of hot water for the obligatory long, hot post-game shower, and everything will be fine.

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