20 October 2011
Posted in Chicago Fire
Well let's face it. These past few days since Saturday have been excruciating - in the best possible way. After Saturday's wild and crazy finish at RFK Stadium, Fire supporters have been sitting on pins and needles waiting for a fairly complex series of dominoes to fall. Last night, the first domino fell.
If you had told me on June 11 that we would be in playoff contention 3 days before the final match of the season, I would have been overjoyed. I probably wouldn't have believed you. Honestly, if you had told me on August 7 that we'd be in contention I really wouldn't have believed you. And again, if you had told me 8 days ago - the night of the FC Dallas loss - that we'd still have hope going into tonight's RBNY v. Philadelphia Union match - I wouldn't have believed you.
As I sat at Toyota Park last week and started writing my post-match post in about the 75th minute, I was at kind of a low point. The Fire had just lost a vital home match, they were almost certainly out of the playoff mix now, unless there was some sort of miracle in the cards - and it just didn't seem likely.
Writer's note: Fire team writer Jeff Crandall called the team, "The team of destiny" when they were making their USOC run - I am going to borrow this phrase from him and suggest that maybe they just are the, "Team of destiny".
Cue the tape to Saturday night. I didn't see the match live as I was on the road for it. (Don't worry I watched it when I got home). However, I do get the ESPN mobile alerts for any goals, subs, discipline, and half and game score and I had Twitter open on my phone (not safe - I know). Anyway, when De Rosario nailed the PK in the 90' I shut my Twitter app off for a few minutes and just drove towards my exit. When I got to the exit and was sitting at the light I decided to check again - just in case something wild had happened. I had 54 new timeline items in the span of like 2 minutes - you guys were blowing up. I quickly scrolled through and saw Grazzini had tied the game in stoppage time. I got a little excited. I scrolled up. And then I saw something that made my heart skip three beats. "The Fire scored again?!?" "Chaves scored?" "This has to be a joke." Of course you all already know it wasn't. This "team of destiny" had just come back from being down 1-0 on the road in stoppage time to win the match. Unbelievable.
As I thought about the match in the hours after, I realized that this team might be Crandall's, "Team of destiny". I also sent out a tweet that I thought was pretty fitting (if you don't follow us on Twitter - you should, right meow - @HooknLaddersSG) It was something to the tune of how the Fire served justice on behalf of MLS that night. Think about all the points DC United had earned late in games on PK's earned by the oscar winning, nightclub suing, never takes responsibility for his own actions, Charlie Davies. Karma came back in full swing to DC United that night.
It was fun to celebrate for a night, but then reality set it - this was still a very, very long road. A lot of things needed to happen. Portland and DC needed to get minimal points in their final two matches, and RBNY had to lose to Philadelphia, and Chicago had to beat Columbus. And oh yeah, if all of those things happen the Fire need to make up a 6 goal differential with RBNY. Then and only then will the Fire lock up the 10th and final playoff spot.
Last night the first domino fell. DC United played to a 1-1 draw at home with Portland. If you haven't seen this match, spend the $3.99 for matchday live and watch it. The last 15 minutes of this match are epic. In the end the match ended in a draw and the Fire stayed alive.
The next domino is set up tonight. RBNY need to lose tonight - and lose fairly big. A RBNY draw or win will officially eliminate the Fire from contention. And, for all intents and purposes, so will a 1-0 or 2-0 RBNY loss.
The next domino will be on Saturday night when the Fire take on Columbus. If New York loses tonight, the Fire will know exactly what they need to do on Saturday to keep their hopes alive. They will need to win and by a fairly decent margin probably to make up the goal differential, but if it gets to that point - hope starts getting brighter. Because, if Chicago can make up that goal differential with New York and pull ahead of them, only one domino remains. Portland needs to go into Rio Tinto Stadium and not win. A draw or a loss work the same for us. This match starts 30 minutes after the Fire, so it's going to be a real stressful couple of hours, especially if the Fire are taking care of business against Columbus.
If, and only if, all of these chips fall into place, the Fire will make it into the playoffs. And lookout if they do. If they make it in - after every hurdle they had to overcome, the rest of MLS better be on notice.
Still, it sucks to think that one more goal at Houston or even at home against FC Dallas and this would be a whole lot easier.
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