The Chicago Fire return home this weekend to host Eastern Conference counterparts D.C. United. Ahead of Sunday afternoon's 3:30 p.m. kickoff, take a look below at some of the key names, faces and storylines set to shape the match's outcome:
Sunday's match marks the conclusion of the Chicago Fire's 2018 campaign. The opportunity to finish the season on a winning note against an in-form conference rival -- on Fan Appreciation Day no less -- offers plenty of motivation to go out and compete, according to captain Dax McCarty:
As for season milestones, forward Nemanja Nikolić can finish with 20 goals across all competitions for the second straight season should he find himself on the scoresheet come Sunday. Midfielder Aleksandar Katai can reach 20 combined goals and assists with a pair of either after full time. In addition, players like Matt Polster and Diego Campos -- who each returned from injury in last week's match at Atlanta -- can look to get a few more minutes under their belt before heading into the offseason.
This weekend's visit from D.C. will be one of 11 MLS matches kicking off simultaneously at 3:30 p.m. CT on the league's annual Decision Day, as teams in both conferences jockey one last time for final 2018 MLS Cup playoff seeding as well as regular season hardware.
D.C. enters the match in fifth place in the Eastern Conference having secured a postseason berth, but can finish as high as third place should Sunday's results around the league fall in their favor.
Former teammates and international adversaries Bastian Schweinsteiger and Wayne Rooney will go head-to-head for the second time this season, this time taking the tilt to Toyota Park.
Prior to each player’s jump to Major League Soccer, the pair played together at Manchester United from 2015 -- when Schweinsteiger made the move after 13 seasons at FC Bayern Munich -- to early 2017 when Schweinsteiger departed for Chicago. Sunday marks yet another intersection of a pair of globally-renowned careers, which also includes head-to-head meetings in the UEFA Champions League as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Germany and England, respectively.
Home Team Absences
Defender Johan Kappelhof will be forced to miss Sunday's encounter due to a suspension from yellow card accumulation. As for injuries, forward Luis Solignac (right adductor injury) and defender Christian Dean (right hamstring injury) have been listed as out, while defender Grant Lillard is questionable with a left quad injury.
Last time out
These two teams met just three weeks ago on Saturday, Oct. 7 for a first-ever matchup at D.C.'s Audi Field. Midfielder Raheem Edwards scored his first career goal for the Fire in a 2-1 defeat.
The Fire hold a 20-23-15 all-time record against D.C. United in regular-season play, including an 11-7-10 record in matches played at home.