The Portland Timbers and New England Revolution played a massively consequential game late last night, finishing in a 2-2 draw. This puts the Chicago Fire in an interesting spot.
In order for the Revs to make the playoffs over the Fire, they must win one of their last two games. However, that point in Portland puts them squarely in the drivers’ seat in the playoff race.
For the Fire, the song remains the same. In order to have a shot at sneaking in, they must beat both Toronto this week, and Orlando next week. It’s completely doable. TFC is coming off of a midweek loss in the final of the Canadian Championship, and Orlando are Orlando. Likewise, it’s equally possible the Revs do their part for the Men In Red. They play the number 1 and number 2 teams in the east to end the season, and they’re 50/50 to have their season end in frustration in tears.
However, there’s a big overarching question being posed right now concerning the Fire and all this playoff math: Does it really matter? I mean, had you asked me a week ago the answer would be a slam dunk yes. What’s more important than winning during the season ahead of you? A conversation between myself and Bridget on this week’s episode of The North Lot (listen here) had me thinking otherwise. For this club, for this season, does making the playoffs really matter all that much?
On the surface, of course it does. Obviously. On-field success is the most important metric upon which we judge the organisation, and to some, it’s the only metric. Missing the playoffs when it is essentially being handed to you on a silver platter would be an indictment of the players, coaching staff, and front office. This would be one of the great missed opportunities in Chicago Sports history, right up there with the 2003 Cubs and Derrick Rose’s time with the Bulls.
Honestly, though, the last few months has changed the metrics somewhat. With Joe Mansueto’s takeover, the focus has shifted away from the happenings of this season. At this point, it seems that the success or failure of the 2019 Chicago Fire is the least important thing happening.
There are a whole host of bigger issues at hand. What’s the new identity of the club going to be? What will the expected badge change look like? What will he change and keep the same? What are they going to do to fill in Soldier Field next year?
Plus, the sale of the club, something the fan base has been wanting for seemingly close to a decade, has disconnected the emotions and feelings from the results of the first team. The sale has made people feel happy about the club again. It’s brought back old fans and former players, and there’s a festive atmosphere around the Fire. Last week, while there was some disappointment in the draw with Cincinnati, it did not register as the massive catastrophe it otherwise would have in any other year. There seem to be more important things going on.
Ultimately, I still think that making the playoffs is the most important. Not because it will have any impact on the long term health of the club, or even its short term health, but because making the playoffs is one step closer to the end goal of winning a championship. And that is always the most important thing.
What do you think? Where does making the playoffs rank in importance for you? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts!