CHICAGO – There has been nothing easy about the 2020 Major League Soccer season for any of the clubs that have taken the pitch this season.
Only the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season were anything less than complicated, with the COVID-19 pandemic putting a lengthy pause on the season before it even began.
Chicago Fire FC only got a pair of road matches before things were shutdown and had to wait till August to finally get a game at Soldier Field. That’s been part of of a shortened late summer, early fall season that was preceded by a “bubble” tournament in Orlando in the summer.
Yet this new-look Fire team with new head coach Raphael Wicky and a host of other players in their first year in Chicago have done enough to have something to play for as MLS Decision Day approaches.
To make the playoffs on Sunday in this difficult year, their best scenario is actually quite simple: Win.
If the Fire can hold serve at Soldier Field and come out with a victory against New York City FC at 2:30 PM on WGN-TV on Sunday, they’ll clinch a spot in the postseason with no other help needed.
Should Wicky’s team do so, it would be the club’s first playoff appearance and just their second since 2013. It’s an opportunity created by an expanded MLS postseason which added two more spots to each conference, but making it would be a major achievement in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.
Even if the Fire can only manager a tie against NYCFC, who currently sits fifth in the MLS standings, there is a chance for the club to squeeze in the postseason if they can get a point for a draw. In each scenario they’ll need help.
With a tie, the Fire would need both Inter Miami and Atlanta United FC to either lose or tie. Should the club come out with no points, the Fire could still make the playoffs with a loss by Atlanta United FC and a loss or tie by both Inter Miami or DC United.
Either way, there’s work to do at Soldier Field on Sunday, and despite so much being out of their hands the last eight months, their fate is in their hands.