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Chicago Fire’s playoff hopes looking good after some helpful Sunday scores

None of the Fire’s rivals were able to jump ahead of them after last night’s slate of matches

Chicago’s Álvaro Medrán battles for the ball during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Nashville SC
Wade Payne Photo

Sunday night might have been the Chicago Fire’s best night of the year, and they didn’t even kick a ball.

Inter Miami lost 2-1 to Toronto FC. Montreal Impact lost 1-0 to Orlando City. And, D.C. United lost 4-3 to the New England Revolution. The only result that didn’t go the Fire’s way—Atlanta United’s 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati, still isn’t good enough to put Atlanta ahead of the Fire.

In other words, a lot of teams had a chance to jump ahead of Chicago last night, and none of them did. FiveThirtyEight now has the Fire’s playoff odds at 62%. The Fire are tenth on total points, and ninth on points-per-game, a fraction of a percent above Montreal.

“Of course if a team who is competing with us doesn’t win or loses, we are not going to cry,” Fire Head Coach Raphael Wicky said after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Nashville SC. “But in the end of the day, again, that’s out of our control, and I said it a lot in the last week to my team and to my staff: We can always look at the others, but we have to win our game.”

Now, we wait to find out whether the Fire will indeed travel back to St. Paul on Wednesday for the makeup game with Minnesota United. Last time, the Fire got all the way to the team hotel before turning around because of a positive COVID-19 case in the Minnesota team delegation. Minnesota is again dealing with another COVID issue—two players testing positive last week caused the cancelation of the team’s scheduled game with Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.

This time, the Fire are hoping to have an answer from MLS before flying to Minnesota.

“Well, of course, I mean, we would like to know before obviously,” Wicky said. “I don’t have all the details on how many cases and when the cases came out. So I think now maybe the league or the teams have more time to prepare and to analyze what the situation in Minnesota is, and hopefully we can get an answer by Monday or latest by Tuesday morning so that we can also prepare our week of training and not lose, like last time, not fly up there and then have a last-minute cancellation.”

Looking ahead to MLS Decision Day on Sunday, Nov. 8, here are the matches that matter (all matches kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT):

If they make it, the Fire will be the ninth or tenth seed, on the road against Nashville SC or the New York Red Bulls—likely sometime the weekend of Nov. 20-22, following the FIFA international break.

Midfielder Gastón Giménez is slated to return to South America to play for Paraguay during the window. With the required nine day quarantine, it means he would likely have to miss the play-in match, unless something changes.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Fire have to qualify, first. They still control their own playoff destiny, even if Wednesday’s game gets canceled. Here’s hoping we don’t have a repeat of the Vancouver Whitecaps loss at MLS is Back, and they actually get it done this time.

Because as we’ve seen before, once you’re in, anything can happen.