Fire hoping to kick off regular season on the right foot

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CHICAGO - There's a different feel brewing in Bridgeview this year.

The Fire are perfect so far, going 6-0-0 in their preseason slate. But, they were undefeated last year, too.

That hot start didn't carry over to the regular season. The team ended up with just seven wins and finished dead last in the MLS.

"The mood this year is decidedly different," explained general manager Nelson Rodriguez. "I think the mood this year is one of confidence. I think this group recognizes that it is its own entity."

"We are in a very good spot," remarked head coach Veljko Paunovic. "I am very confident that we can achieve the playoffs this year."

"I think this team has a lot of weapons and I think we're going to be a pretty dangerous team," noted newly acquired midfielder Dax McCarty. "I know Pauno has another year of coaching under his belt. I think that will make him ready for a tough season. I think we should be cautiously optimistic that we're going to have a better season. The goal is to always make the playoffs. Then, from there, anything can happen. I think this is a team that should be confident that we can make the playoffs. That's what we're going to try to do all season."

The Fire begin their quest for the postseason this Saturday on the road against the Columbus Crew.