Bridgeview, IL – D.C. United have many reasons to be optimistic going into Thursday night's match against the Chicago Fire.
United currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points, but a win at Toyota Park can take them as high as third place, depending on the results of MLS matches Wednesday night.
D.C. go into the match with a three-game unbeaten streak under their belts, recording a 2-0-1 record and outscoring their opponents 9-3 over that stretch.
The club has a formidable road record this season, going 3-3-6 at RFK Stadium compared 4-3-3 away from home.
But most of all, D.C. United's defense has been solid, conceding just four goals in their last six MLS regular season matches.
Dejan Jakovic is coming into his own, and he has formed a blossoming partnership with United newcomer Brandon McDonald. The duo was able to hold Eric Hassli, who is third MLS scoring with ten goals, scoreless in the club's last outing, a 4-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Jakovic told MLSsoccer.com about the chemistry he and McDonald have created while playing together.
"I like playing with him. Our communication has been great," Jakovic said. "We just haven't been allowing goals, other than the Toronto game. We both feel comfortable with each other."
Meanwhile, Chicago has struggled to pick up points all season, as it has managed just 20 points from its 23 matches. That puts the club in last place in the Eastern Conference.
The Fire are coming off of a 2-2 draw with Red Bull New York that saw them pull ahead after going down a goal early in the match, only to throw away the lead in the second half.
Despite failing to collect two additional points that seemed obtainable, Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas remained optimistic about his side's performance.
"I am very happy with the performance of the group in a very difficult place to get a point on the road [at Red Bull Arena]," Klopas said after the match. "It's good, now we just have to go back home and get three points. We still have 11 games left. It is our goal always when we step on the field."
While it has only lost seven times all year, Chicago has drawn 14 matches in the 2011 MLS season, more than any other club.
With the playoffs likely out of reach, the Fire will have to start turning draws into wins in order to finish in a higher league position.