Frank Klopas doesn't beat around the bush: If the Chicago Fire are going to get by the Houston Dynamo in Wednesday's Eastern Conference Knockout Round match (9 pm ET, ESPN2 and TSN2; LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com), Saturday's performance in the regular-season finale against D.C. United just isn't going to cut it.
"I felt we did create a lot of opportunities throughout the game and we just didn't finish those chances," Klopas said in a Tuesday conference call about the 1-1 draw vs. D.C. "We need to be able to put a couple more of those chances away. That focus and concentration has to be at a different level on Wednesday."
The urgency will be heightened by the fact that the Dynamo are already ahead of the Fire in the experience department. The bulk of Houston's squad were part of the run to the MLS Cup final last year, while Chicago are in their first postseason since coming to within a game of the final in 2009.
WATCH: Tactical preview of Fire vs. Dynamo
"It's a very good team. It's a team with experience," Klopas said. "We've talked about it. [Houston] have been in this situation before and they're a very well-coached team and they have quality players. They know what it takes."
The Fire will have their own seasoned veterans in Logan Pause, Pável Pardo and Arne Friedrich to counterbalance the youth they will field in key positions: 24-year-old rookie Austin Berry, 23-year-old goalkeeper Sean Johnson and 24-year-old right back Jalil Anibaba.
But whatever the result on Halloween night, those youngsters will form the foundation for what Klopas hopes to be a perennial playoff team in the mold of the visitors in orange coached by Klopas' former national team teammate and friend Dominic Kinnear.
"It's great we're in the playoffs," Klopas said. "This group is hungry to achieve a lot more, that as an organization and club to be consistent and we're in this position every year.
"Dom has done a fantastic job for me -- one of the great coaches in this league. They're very consistent and won championships and done a fantastic job. If anything, I hope that I can come close to achieving what he has so far."