Happy Labor Day.
We’re now down to the final two months of the MLS regular season, and the Chicago Fire sit in 11th, at 6-11-5, with 23 points. That’s seven points back of D.C. United for the seventh and final playoff spot, with the Columbus Crew, Atlanta United and Inter Miami in the way.
Let’s take a look at what it might take for the Fire to make the postseason:
Points Per Game
Sitting in the final playoff spot, D.C. United has 30 points in 22 games, giving them a points-per-game average of 1.36. To be safe, let’s set the bar at 1.38 points-per-game. The Fire have 12 games left in the 34 game regular season. To finish the season with a points-per-game average of 1.38, the Fire would need to end up with 47 points—more than double the total they’re at right now. This means Chicago will need, potentially, 24 more points to close out the season—a two points-per-game average over the final 12. In other words, that’s six wins and six draws, with zero losses.
How about the schedule?
Thanks to the Bears, the Fire are away far more often than they’re at home to close out the year. Of the remaining 12 matches, only four are at home—three at Soldier Field, and one at SeatGeek Stadium:
- Sept. 11 at Sporting Kansas City
- Sept. 15 at D.C. United
- Sept. 19 at CF Montreal
- Sept. 22 vs. New England Revolution (Soldier Field)
- Sept. 26 vs. Nashville SC (Soldier Field)
- Sept. 29 vs. New York City FC (SeatGeek Stadium)
- Oct. 3 at Toronto FC
- Oct. 16 at New England Revolution
- Oct. 20 at FC Cincinnati
- Oct. 23 vs. Real Salt Lake (Soldier Field)
- Oct. 27 at New York City FC
- Nov. 7 at Columbus Crew
Here’s the good news: the Fire have games against Toronto and Cincinnati, who are both bad. They also have games against D.C. and Columbus, which are potential six-pointers. Now for the bad news: they have two games against the best team in MLS, New England, and play another against one of the best teams in the West, Sporting KC. They play third placed Nashville once, and fourth placed NYCFC twice.
Are the Fire capable of six wins and six draws over that stretch? Probably not. The team has been a lot better since early July, and Federico Navarro is now in Chicago, out of quarantine, and ready to help, but that’s still a big ask. FiveThirtyEight gives the Fire a five percent chance to make the postseason, which seems about right.
Now, that 1.38 points-per-game figure isn’t set in stone, and the Fire could sneak in with less than that, but it wouldn’t be much less. Chicago will need to go on an absolute tear to finish the year to keep any playoff hopes alive.