BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire have regained that unbeatable feeling.
There was always a different attitude with the 2012 Fire than the team of the previous two seasons, one that missed out on their playoffs. Even so, their current run of form is off the charts. And it’s something they’ll be determined to continue on Saturday against Eastern Conference rivals Columbus Crew (8:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online).
The Fire have won six of seven games and have come from behind in three of those wins, including last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Montreal, when Impact forward Marco Di Vaio opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
“When the goal went in, it didn’t faze me,” Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m like, ‘So what?’ It’s only one goal, we can come back and win the game. The last couple of years, we go down 1-0 and it’s like, ‘Where are we going to conjure up the team effort to come back and win the game or tie the game?’”
Last weekend's win came without defensive midfielder Pável Pardo, who was held out of the game with hamstring tightness.
With holding midfielder Daniel Paladini on the mend, coach Frank Klopas went with midfielder Alex, normally an attacking player, and pulled Logan Pause back to cover Montreal midfielder Felipe Martins.
Pardo is questionable for Saturday’s game against Columbus, so there’s a good chance Pause will play similar role with Crew creator Federico Higuaín.
“He’s a player that, regardless of who’s playing, that you’re going to need to watch out for, whether it’s our backs, whether that’s our midfield,” Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a big part of what they do.”
Playing with different personnel has become a theme for the Fire this season – 22 different players have started at least one game.
But the positive vibes haven’t stopped through changes on the team sheet, and Chicago are in the mix for the top spot in the East. If they beat sixth-place Columbus, they’ll need a minimum of five more points to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2009, when they were led by Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Brian McBride and Wilman Conde.
“I keep saying, this team is very similar [to the 2009 Fire], even though on paper, we had the better team, with more experience and big names,” Nyarko said. “But I think this team, the togetherness and confidence is a little bit different.”