San Jose looking for playoff boost vs. Chicago (Sep 27, 2017)
Major playoff implications are on the line when the Chicago Fire take on the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on Wednesday night.
While the visiting Fire's postseason prospects are pretty secure -- Chicago sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 48 points -- things are a bit more tumultuous for the 'Quakes, who are currently above the playoff line in the Western Conference but are tied on points for the sixth and final spot with the Houston Dynamo at 39.
And with FC Dallas one point back in eighth, anything but a win would be dicey for San Jose, which has played one more game than both Houston and Dallas. Both Western rivals play earlier on Wednesday, which could put additional pressure on San Jose to get a midweek result.
A fourth road victory of the year for Chicago, which is coming off a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia, might put the Fire one point behind second-place New York City FC in the East with the teams squaring off at Toyota Park on Saturday.
A Chicago win, coupled with a New York City victory or draw in Montreal, would clinch the Fire's postseason berth.
"Very important, obviously, the game in San Jose. We're expecting a tough opponent, we're expecting a tough game," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said on the team's official website. "But I know that these guys are prepared and they know very good what we can expect so we'll be ready, we'll give our best and we want to come back from San Jose with points, with a good result and obviously prepare for the next game against New York City here."
Chicago will likely be without German superstar Bastian Schweinsteiger (calf) for a fourth straight game, while midfielder Juninho will miss his third consecutive match with a knee injury.
After a season-long four-game losing streak, Chicago bounced back to get a result in three of its next four with two wins and a draw. San Jose, meanwhile, is 2-2 in its last four with both losses coming by the same 4-0 scoreline. That includes a loss to D.C. United on Saturday in which Patrick Mullins scored all four goals.
At Avaya Stadium, though, the 'Quakes are unbeaten in their last seven and San Jose interim coach Chris Leitch is hoping his squad can use some of that home cooking to bounce back from a disheartening loss on the weekend.
"We are not satisfied at all by how we played tonight, and it's unacceptable," Leitch told the San Jose Mercury News after the match. "At the same token, we still have a lot to play for. All of our focus has to be on Wednesday and an important game for us at home against a good team in Chicago."