The Chicago Fire’s recent struggles cost them a chance at a top
seed in the MLS Cup playoffs, and set up a one-game elimination
contest with one of last year’s finalists.
The Fire will try to shake out of their funk as they host the
rested Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference wild-card game
Chicago (17-11-6) concluded the regular season with a 1-3-1
stretch after winning seven of the previous eight to move into
serious contention for first place in the East.
The Fire continued to pay the price for their late-season swoon
Saturday, tying D.C. 1-1 when a win would have moved them into
second. Instead, they dropped into fourth and the wild-card
“The goal from the beginning was to be in the playoffs and we
are. Did we want to finish second? Yes, we did,” coach Frank Klopas
said. “I want a week to prepare for sure, it would be a lot better
than a quick turnaround like this.
“The good thing is that we are at home and don’t have to
Chicago is 11-3-3 at home this year, beating Houston 3-1 there
While the Dynamo (14-9-11) have been part of five of the last
six postseasons, the Fire are ending a two-year playoff absence and
have only four players that have represented the club in the
“The main things we focus on and what I try to talk to the young
guys about is everything is magnified,” captain Logan Pause told
the team’s official website. “The details are that much more
important. Every play, every tackle, every shot – things just
tighten up. In this situation especially, it’s one game where
you’re moving on or you’re done.”
Chicago will look to leading scorer Chris Rolfe (eight goals)
for production, and it went 5-0-1 when he found the back of the
net. But Rolfe has failed to score in five straight games, and
didn’t even muster a shot against United.
Rolfe has two goals in eight career meetings with Houston, and
none in two matchups this year.
The Dynamo, who lost last year’s MLS Cup final to Los Angeles,
already knew their playoff fate before falling 2-0 to Colorado on
Saturday. That allowed coach Dominic Kinnear to rest a number of
“We were a little disappointed in how we performed, but we’ve
got a big game on Wednesday, so that’s our focus right now,”
Kinnear told the team’s official website. “We’re just going to need
to stay positive. We had a good season so I’m just looking forward
Forward Will Bruin and midfielder Brad Davis should be back
against Chicago. Bruin led Houston with 12 goals, and Davis was
second with eight while setting up 12 others.
They’ve both struggled against the Fire, though. Davis has three
assists in 16 meetings, while Bruin has managed one goal in four
matchups with Houston going 0-1-3.
The winner of this game will host East champion Kansas City on
Sunday in the opener of the two-legged conference semifinal