As their MLS struggles continue, the Fire look ahead to the US Open Cup semifinal

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - JULY 21: Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (31) dribbles with the ball against the Toronto FC on July 21, 2018 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Not even a memorable strike from a popular player or a strong debut for a goalie were enough to turn their fortunes.

Real Salt Lake continued the Chicago Fire’s struggles from July into August on Saturday night, notching a 2-1 victory at home to send the team to their sixth-consective loss in Major League Soccer play.

Bastian Schweinsteiger’s impressive kick from around 30 yards out for a goal in the second half nor was Stefan Cleveland’s eight saves in his first MLS games. Damir Kreilach’s goal 75th minute goal dropped the Fire’s record to 6-13-5 – which is tied for eighth in the Eastern Conference. In the thick of the playoff race a month-and-a-half ago, the Veljko Paunovic’s team is now six points out of the sixth and final spot in the conference.

While getting back into championship contention is going to take some work, the team is still alive for another title they’ll get to pursue this week.

On Wednesday the Fire play their Lamar Hunt US Open Cup semifinal against the Union in Philadelphia at 6 PM central time. The winner faces either the Houston Dynamo or Los Angeles FC for the title on September 26th.

Unlike their MLS campaign this season, the Fire have been consistent in their pursuit of their record fifth championship in the tournament and their first since 2006. They knocked off fellow league opponents in the Columbus Crew and Atlanta United before beating USL opponent Louisville City FC 4-0 on July 18th.

The Fire will have to figure out a way to get past the Union, having lost to them twice during the MLS season in 2018. Perhaps the third time will be the charm for a team that’s found little luck over the past month-and-a-half.