For a lot of Chicago Fire fans, the season effectively ended with the 2-1 loss against Saint Louis FC. Barring a Leagues Cup win, the US Open Cup was realistically the only shot for silverware this season.
Yet to the dismay of fans and perhaps even some players, there is still a lot of soccer to be played. The Fire still has a chance to secure a spot in the MLS playoffs— at least on paper. If the Men In Red have any chance at all of playing postseason soccer, their upcoming July fixtures could make all the difference.
Historically speaking, that should be a cause for worry.
For the past five seasons, July hasn’t been a good month for the Fire. They have a questionable record of 5-7-13. Out of those seasons, 2018 leads the pack with five defeats. Could it be the heat? Or players already checking out? The bright sun glaring in their eyes? Whatever the excuse may be, if the Fire wants to salvage whatever they have left from this season, they need to go full steam ahead in the upcoming month.
With six league games to contend with (five of them against Eastern Conference opponents), the Fire are going to have a very busy July. Let’s take a brief look at their schedule.
Atlanta United - July 3rd
Atlanta United edged out the Fire in a 2-0 victory earlier this month and with their resurgence recently, they are clear favorites for another victory. However, the Fire do have a home advantage this time. If they can somehow squeeze out a point, then they can head into the month strong.
Sporting Kansas City - July 6th
Playing in Kansas City is never easy, but Fire, Sporting Kansas City has been floundering a bit - with a record of 3-7-5. Four of their players are also out for the foreseeable months due to injuries. The stars have aligned for the Fire to come into this match with a lot of confidence, but we’ll see if they can maintain it throughout the match.
FC Cincinnati - July 13th
The newest kids on the block hasn’t had a great season so far. They’ve conceded 18 goals in the past five games - 3 of those goals came from the Colorado Rapids. The same Colorado team that the Fire managed to rout 4-1 earlier this year. The Fire should have three points in the bag, but we all know the Fire is going to Fire.
Columbus Crew - July 17th
That Yellow Team started out strong but found themselves in a rut as of late. They have one win in the last five games and find themselves in the bottom half of the table. Like with the previous two teams, the Fire has a good chance at securing a win— until David Accam scores deep in stoppage time.
Philadelphia Union - July 20th
This is where things will start to get hard for the Fire. High-flying Philly are top of the Eastern Conference table with a game to spare. Despite having Andre Blake between the sticks, the Union haven’t kept a clean sheet in a while. If the Fire can find a way to finish properly, then they can probably leave Philly with a point.
DC United - July 27th
When the Fire last met DC United, they blew a 2-0 lead only to draw 3-3. That draw seems to be a reoccurring thing with DC as of late— in the past five games they saw four draws. At this stage of the month, the Fire could be completely gassed and would most likely throw this game away.
In a best case scenario, the Fire could 11 out of 18 points in July. Worst case, they will only see six.
One thing is for certain though, if the Fire performs abysmal this upcoming month, then they can most certainly kiss the playoffs goodbye.