CHICAGO – If they want to go to the postseason in another year filled with ups and downs, they’d best have a playoff mindset now.
That’s because Chicago Fire FC has seven matches between Saturday and October 21, and every point matters in their quest to end a six-year playoff drought. This is especially true as the club is in the midst of a losing streak where they’ve dropped in the Eastern Conference standings.
“Every game we play is a playoff game,” said manager Frank Klopas of his team. We can’t hide from that. You can’t sugarcoat that. The players see the standings. They know where we are. But it’s important for us just to make sure that we have a really good game plan, we prepare really well, give the players as much confidence as we can in front of the goal but also our ability to defend well as a unit.”
This stretch begins on Saturday when the Fire faces CF Montreal on the road on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. central time. That club is three points ahead of them for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings while D.C. United is two points ahead of the Fire with the ninth and last playoff spot.
It’s been an unusual few months for the Fire who have dealt with a major stretch of winning, a currently losing streak, along with two breaks. The club won five of six matches before taking part in three matches in the Leagues Cup, then had a 16-day break.
After that, momentum disappeared for the Fire as they fell under the playoff line after four straight losses. The last one of those was a forgettable 4-0 defeat to D.C. United on September 2, which was followed by a two-week break.
Meanwhile, the club is trying to keep a balanced mindset with the ups and downs in hopes to save their best for the final month of the season.
“It’s like in life: if you stumble and you fall, you have to get back up. Then you stumble again, you have to get back up. I really believe in that,” said midfielder Gaston Gimenez. “I think streaks, both positive and negative, are always broken at some point. So right now we’re kind of on a slump, a downward streak.
“But we hope this weekend against Montreal, we go out there and that streak is broken in a positive way so that we can continue to look forward and finish off the season strong.”
After all, it’s the playoffs before the playoffs for the club.