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Houston Dynamo v. Chicago Fire, MLS #20 - Gamethread - 8 pm CST - NBCSN & 107.9 FM

Game starts the crucial stretch of Fire 2013; Chicago must get results now or plan for next year

Here we freakin' go. With 15 games left to play, the Fire find themselves five back of the fifth, final playoff spot in the East. Their record against teams in playoff position is an execrable 1-7-3, with the lone win coming back on April 7 vs. New York Red Bull. Everything about that trend has to change if we are to see the Men in Red in the 2013 postseason.

Dilly Duka is definitely out, as his groin injury hasn't progressed well during treatment this week. Coming back into the squad is Patrick Nyarko - recently over strep throat - and the team captain, Logan Pause, who got a brief runout last week against DC. For Houston, they welcome Brad Davis back from injury and Corey Ashe back from Gold Cup play - huge additions in two potential MLS best XI performers.

In his game preview, Adam Merges suggested that the best way to snatch points for the Fire may be to play a 4-2-3-1, with Amarikwa as the head of the spear and a movement-based attacking line of Magee-Rolfe-Nyarko. Will Frank switch it up and return to his beloved double pivot, or will we see the same 4-4-2 as last week, albeit with Nyarko in for Duka?

In the Fireside Chat, I predicted a 2-2 draw, and I'll stand with that. If the Fire can avoid their typical bugaboo - giving up soft early goals - they have every reason to believe they can claw at least a point out of this game.

The comments section is where it's at - I'll post lineups as soon as they're available. Join us for snark and/or celebration from your favorite pub or living room, eh?