BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The Chicago Fire are looking to start their second-half push this weekend, when they take on Western Conference stragglers Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Saturday (10 pm ET, Galvisión).
The Fire currently sit in a tie for seventh place in the East, two points behind the Houston Dynamo for the 10th and final playoff spot. Chicago have been on the up since interim head coach Frank Klopas took over on May 30, but they’ll need to stop tying — the Fire have a league-high 11 draws — and start winning if they want to avoid missing the postseason for the second straight year.
Chicago will be heading into Saturday’s match with a good deal of confidence. A reserve-laden Fire squad beat Rochester 1-0 in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Tuesday night, giving the entire team a boost heading into the weekend.
“It’s still fresh in our mind, and we need wins in the league,” Fire winger Patrick Nyarko said. “It’s important to win the Open Cup but it’s most important to get points in the league, especially on the road at the Home Depot Center. We got to come out and we got to match their intensity and stay within the game plan, and hopefully win the game.”
Part of that game plan includes attacking Chivas USA’s high defensive line with pace. Nyarko and fellow attacker Dominic Oduro will be looking to use their tremendous speed to get behind the Goats back four, a unit that has given up seven goals in its last three games.
They’ll be helped by the return of midfielders Marco Pappa and Logan Pause, both of whom will be available after missing Tuesday’s match with injuries.
“They hold a really high line and we’re going to try to exploit that with our pace,” Nyarko said. “We haven’t been scoring that many goals but we know we’ve been creating chances and we know the goals will come. We’ll go in there with a positive attitude and [want] nothing but a victory for us coming off this Open Cup win.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.