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Since July, the Chicago Fire have been solid, and sometimes good. Can this run continue away from home?

The Fire host Columbus Sunday, before hitting the road for six straight matches

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire
Fire midfielder Fabian Herbers
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

If it’s the hope that kills you, be warned: this bit of information might be bad for your health.

On June 26, the Chicago Fire switched to a 3-5-2 formation, and pulled out a 3-3 draw with the Philadelphia Union. Starting on that date, the Chicago Fire are fifth in the table in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference, and ninth in the league overall, per Opta:

Since July 3, the MLS league table is even more promising for the Fire. They’re fourth in the East—and also fourth in the entire league—behind only the New England Revolution, D.C. United, and Nashville SC.

The Fire have been much better since the formation change, but, sadly, it still hasn’t done a lot to improve what really matters—Chicago is still 11th in the East, seven points out of a playoff position. This Sunday’s matchup with the struggling Columbus Crew (5 p.m. CT, WGN-TV, CFFC Live) is essentially a six-pointer for the team. A second straight win would be huge, considering the next six matches are on the road. After Sunday, the Fire don’t return to Soldier Field until September 22 against New England.

Considering the team hasn’t won an away match since October 2019, that six game road trip should make or break the season. Either the Fire figure it out away from home, or any glimmer of hope will quickly die. A playoff push still seems unlikely, but if the last nine matches have taught us anything, it’s that this Fire team might be just good enough to be interesting, especially with Federico Navarro on the way.