A win would push Chicago to the brink of the playoffs, and less could mean a premature end to the season.The Chicago Fire are in the playoffs by a razor's edge, and at the tail end of the season, can ill-afford a slip.
Chicago occupies the fifth and final playoff spot in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference, equal on points with Montreal and Philadelphia with only a games won tiebreaker keeping the Fire above the red line. With those two sides meeting on Saturday, the windy city club could take sole possession of fourth place or even challenge Houston - which plays first-place New York - for third.
Driving the Fire offense at this crucial time of the year is MLS MVP candidate Mike Magee. Prior to 2013, Magee was seen as a scrappy player who tended to come up big in the playoffs. His career-best mark for goals in a season was still the seven he tallied his rookie year. This campaign, he's tied for the league-lead with 19, with four goals and an assist in his last five matches as the Fire push for the playoffs.
Toronto has been eliminated from playoff contention, and has been mathematically guaranteed to finish in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Reds will have to do some lineup shuffling, with Jeremy Hall and Joe Bendik suspended. Danny Koevermans (L Calf strain) and Matias Laba (Fractured distal phalanx of R great toe) are listed as out, while Robert Earnshaw (R Calf strain) is questionable.
The Fire will be without Brendan King (L Hamstring Strain) and Michael Videira (Concussion Symptoms).
In their only other meeting this season, these sides drew 1-1, Dilly Duka and Robert Earnshaw trading first-half goals on Sept. 11.