Bridgeview, IL – The Chicago Fire are in desperate need of a victory on Saturday when the club hosts the New England Revolution at Toyota Park.
The Fire currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference on 36 points, but a three-point effort on Saturday would vault the side ahead of New England and into the playoff picture.
Chicago had a prime opportunity to jump the Revs in the standings on Wednesday as they took on bottom-dwellers Toronto FC at BMO Field, and they grabbed the lead early in the match when Dilly Duka scored his fourth goal of the season 20 minutes into the contest.
But they failed to hold the lead as Toronto answered back just three minutes later when Robert Earnshaw found the back of the net off a nice feed from Bobby Convey and the sides settled for a point apiece.
Saturday's match will also conclude a busy stretch which saw the Fire play three games in eight nights. They drew the Houston Dynamo by a 1-1 score on Sept 1, then fell by a 2-1 count against Seattle six days later.
"I think against Seattle we played well. It's unfortunate to drop points. I thought we started the game really well, we got the goal but a silly play, a mistake, and they got momentum and we allowed them back into the game a little bit and it became difficult," Fire head coach Frank Klopas said.
"We were not able to get on the ball and calm the game down a little bit and it became a little bit more of an up and down game. I thought we had opportunities to dictate the tempo better and hold the ball and then we just forced it. In the second half it was wide open a little bit. The last ten minutes I thought, with the changes, we got into the game and had some opportunities, we pushed the game. We knew that out of the two games that we needed points. Saturday is going to be a big one -- we need to get the three points at home."
Chicago will also have some reinforcements back into the squad as Designated Player Arevalo Rios and midfielder Joel Lindpere have returned from international duty and will be available for selection on Saturday.
The Revolution find themselves in a slightly better position, sitting in fifth place in the East with a chance to put some distance between themselves and the clubs below them.
New England will need to put last week's 4-2 loss at the hands of the Montreal Impact in the past quickly if they hope to steal a result on the road.
Things went south for New England almost from the outset against Montreal as goalkeeper Matt Reis was shown a straight red card for a challenge in the box on Marco Di Vaio and the Impact were also awarded a penalty kick on the play.
Reis was replaced by Bobby Shuttleworth, who was powerless to stop the spot kick from Patrice Bernier as the visitors took the early lead.
The 10-man Revs fought hard as Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe scored, but they were unable to keep up with Montreal.
Revs head coach Jay Heaps was less than pleased with the match-altering call against Reis:
"I had no interaction with the referee at all," he said. "I felt that there was no explanation and it was disappointing. That's what I think was the most disappointing, just the overall demeanor toward us. That's what I feel upsets us the most."