Preview: Chicago Fire vs. Chivas USA
The MLS playoff picture may be muddled heading into the final weekend, but the
The Fire will try to solve
Chicago (10-7-12) needs a win or a tie to gain a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs as the second seed in the
The Fire could have clinched a trip to the playoffs with a win Saturday, but played to a scoreless tie at New England – one of the other teams still alive in the race. That draw is part of an 0-2-4 stretch that turned Chicago from Supporters’ Shield contender into potential playoff absentee.
“These games are never easy,” coach Denis Hamlett said. “There’s a lot of pressure on both teams trying to get in the playoffs, and it makes for good games.”
A ceremony honoring Armas’ storied career could help Hamlett’s team gain a mental edge.
The midfielder will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Fire, joining former teammates Peter Nowak, Lubos Kubik and Frank Klopas, coach Bob Bradley and general manager Peter Wilt. Only Klopas is still with the organization as technical director.
Armas helped the Fire win the 1998 MLS Cup, four U.S. Open Cup titles and the 2003 Supporters’ Shield, while ranking second in franchise history in assists (42) and third in games played (214). He also had two goals in 66 games with the U.S. national team.
The Fire could also get a boost from having Cuauhtemoc Blanco back in the lineup. The playmaker played 22 minutes as a substitute against the
Blanco has five goals and a team-leading eight assists, but has managed just one of each over his last seven games. He hit the back of the net twice in a 3-2 win over
The Fire are 4-4-1 all-time against
The club is riding strong defensive play anchored by goalkeeper Zach Thornton, a possible contender for league MVP and Goalkeeper of the Year honors.
Thornton, a member of the Fire from 1998-2006, is 12-7-6 and leads MLS with a 0.78 goals-against average and 12 shutouts – both career bests.
The club will also be without defensive midfielder Jess Marsch, who played in Chicago from 1998-2005, after he was injured in practice earlier this week.