There continues to be this aperture through which the Fire can steer themselves to a playoff spot - but that aperture, and the chance that this wobbly team can steer themselves through it, grow quite small indeed.
It is possible to see a way into the playoffs, even into home field for the play-in game, if one imagines the team playing well. True, three of the next four games, and four of the final six, are on the road, where the Fire are among the worst teams in the league - but the teams Chicago will face (Columbus, DC, Dallas, NY) hardly constitute a murderers' row. If they were playing well ...
Here's to hoping the Fire have made a little book on how to handle New England's potentially-elegant but certainly-lightweight midfield. Will we see Cacha back in the lineup, days after playing 90 minutes in South America? I have no idea what Rios' recovery is like at 31 years old. I'd love to see him play, but if he's going to be a step slow, a guaranteed sub at 60 minutes and prone to injury, then why not run out Logan Pause in the anchor role?
Juan Agudelo is a massive loss for the Revs. I know many in Fire-land hate the
punk kid, but New England are a much better team with Agudelo in the lineup. His play in a hold-up role has been canny, assured and unselfish, surely a promising sign for a 20-year-old who could be pulling a full Soumare (a/k/a jaking it in MLS while waiting for a move to Europe).
As always, check back here for lineups, arguments, what have you. COME ON YOU MEN IN RED!
Prediction: Ever the optimist, I'm going to say that Frank shocks everyone, rotates the lineup cannily (Anangono for Rolfe, etc.), and the Fire jump on New England and cruise to a surprisingly easy 3-1 win. Goals for Larentowicz, Duka, el Serpiente, and Fagundez.