Playoff contenders square off as Crew hosts Fire

Time is running out on the Columbus Crew as the team attempts to mount one final playoff push in the Eastern Conference.

With five games remaining the Crew sits four points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, making Saturday's home encounter with the Chicago Fire a pivotal one for playoff positioning.

Chicago currently occupies the last playoff place, sitting four points clear of the Crew with a game in hand.

The Crew got a big boost from its last game as the team overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit to win 2-1 at Montreal.

Federico Higuain assisted on both goals in the second half, with Chad Marshall leveling the contest before Dominic Oduro scored the winner 12 minutes from time.

"When you're down in the standings, this was ultra critical, I think, in our push to make a playoff spot," Crew interim head coach Brian Bliss said after the match. "We've put some pressure on some teams that are slightly above us, so it's uplifting in that regard."

In order for the Crew to keep that positive momentum going, the club must beat a Fire side that has had their number so far this season.

Chicago has won the first two league encounters between the teams as well as a weather-delayed U.S. Open Cup match in June.

If the Fire can continue that run of success against the Crew, it would allow the team to take another step toward a playoff spot with the team sitting in fifth place in the East.

The Fire's playoff chances got a big boost last weekend as the team overcame a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 over New England with two goals in the second half.

Alex came off the bench to score the winning goal for Chicago, but the play of forward Juan Luis Anangono was also a big factor.

Since joining the club over the summer, Anangono has been trying to settle into a regular role with the team, coming off the bench in the previous four games before starting and scoring his first goal for the team in the win over New England.

"I'm very happy with the consistency of the team and I'm happy with the work that was done on the field to come back and get the win tonight," Anangono said. "It always takes a little bit of time to get acclimated to a new lifestyle, but I thank everyone here at the Chicago Fire because they've been so great to me.

"Every day I feel better and more involved with the team and it shows with my performance on the field."

While a regular role in the starting lineup is not a guarantee with Chris Rolfe normally partnering Mike Magee in the Fire attack, the club at least knows it has another attacking option in Anangono.