Bridgeview, IL – Up until the middle of September, the Chicago Fire resembled anything but a playoff contender.
The team had won only four games to that point and wasn't within shouting distance of a place in the postseason.
But a run of 10 points from its last four games has moved Chicago up the table and to within six points of a playoff spot.
Interim coach Frank Klopas will need the team's current run of form to continue over the final three games if the Fire is to have any chance at the postseason, and the final stretch begins on Wednesday at Toyota Park against FC Dallas.
Klopas has put together a 6-4-10 mark since taking over for Carlos de los Cobos at the end of May, and he owes a good bit of credit for his success to striker Dominic Oduro, who leads the team with 12 goals this season.
Oduro is only the second player in team history to tally a dozen goals in a season, joining Ante Razov, and he will need to continue scoring at a good pace for Chicago to continue its strong run of form.
The Fire lost 2-0 to Seattle Sounders FC in the final of the U.S. Open Cup last week, but captain Logan Pause made it clear that his team must get back to winning ways quickly.
"We've got to win the rest of our games," Pause told Fox Soccer after last week's U.S. Open Cup loss. "We can't keep looking at the table and hoping for help. We know if we win our last three games it'll put us in a good spot. From there, only God knows."
FC Dallas has been in a good spot for the majority of the season but has hit a rough patch in recent weeks, losing its last four games.
Making matters worse for Dallas is the fact that the team has failed to score in any of the four defeats, leaving the Hoops five points back of third-place Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference with a game in hand.
"I think the team is just anxious and I think they're frustrated," said FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman. "The results haven't gone our way and [the players are] disappointed, but that's what we would expect. I would be really concerned if they were just happy-go-lucky right now."
Despite the poor run of results, Dallas is still on the verge of locking up a playoff spot and would like to get back to winning ways heading into the postseason.