BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Down 1-0 in the first half last week against Toronto after giving up a soft goal, Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause was confident.
A week before, Fire players were disappointed and angry after dropping two points in San Jose, when a 98th-minute goal by the Western Conference leaders tied the game.
Against the last-place team in the Eastern Conference, Pause said the Fire weren’t worried about dropping points. They had eyes on all three.
“We all knew we were going to win the game,” Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “We knew that, them being up 1-0, they would probably try to bunker and we just needed to be patient.”
The Fire ended up taking three points in dramatic fashion, with Marco Pappa capitalizing on a defensive mistake in the 64th minute before Austin Berry headed home the game-winner in the 87th minute.
For the next two weeks, the Fire will play teams below them in the standings, starting with Sunday’s game in Philadelphia (7 pm ET; Galavision). Sitting in the fifth and final playoff spot, the Fire know that dropping points will be unacceptable – just as it was against Toronto.
“We need to put pressure on D.C., we’re only one point behind them, so we definitely have to win this game on Sunday to keep putting pressure on them,” defender Gonzalo Segares told MLSsoccer.com.
“We look at how far we are from the top, and everyone at the top is pretty close, and we take that into consideration. Everything right now matters, and we’re definitely right in the mix.”
They may have some extra offensive firepower on Sunday after scoring multiple goals for the first time in seven games last weekend. Newly-acquired forward Sherjill MacDonald came on at halftime against Toronto, and he said he might be ready to play 60 minutes on Sunday. Coach Frank Klopas said MacDonald is at about 70 to 80 percent match fitness.
“I feel he’s available if we need him to start,” Klopas said on Friday.
The Union may also have reinforcements on Sunday, with former Fire defender Bakary Soumare nearing match fitness. Philadelphia are a different team than they were during the Fire’s 1-0 win on March 24, when they were 0-3 to start the season. They’ve gone 5-5-0 in their last 10, and are on the fringes of playoff contention.
“They’re a conference team that’s fighting for points, fighting for jobs,” Pause said. “It’s a six-point swing when you lose a game in conference, and we look at it like that.”