The Chicago Fire head to Nippert Stadium this Saturday night for a crucial road contest against Eastern Conference counterparts FC Cincinnati (6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN+) looking to continue their late-season push for a 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs spot.
The match is the first of the Fire's three remaining matches in regular season play. As it stands, the Fire sit three points below the playoff line in the East, with Columbus Crew SC, Orlando City SC, the Montreal Impact, the New England Revolution, and the New York Red Bulls all battling to get above (or stay above) the line as Decision Day nears.
Here's how each team's path to the playoffs is taking shape entering this week's round of matches:
Columbus Crew SC (9-15-7. 34 pts.)
Relative to the other teams in the hunt, Crew SC have the most uphill battle towards the postseason entering this week's slate of matches. At 34 points, they're six points back of the current playoff line with three matches remaining. They've helped their cause with two wins and a draw in their last three outings -- including a 3-1 upset victory on the road against defending MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United FC last weekend -- but will face tests on the road twice in their last three matches. They'll head to Cascadia to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
- Remaining matches: @ Vancouver Whitecaps (9/21), vs. Philadelphia Union (9/29), at Toronto FC (10/6).
- Last five results: D-L-W-D-W
Orlando City SC (9-13-9, 36 points)
Currently a point below the Fire in the East, Orlando City SC find themselves needing every point possible with three matches remaining. Most recently, Orlando climbed back from a two-goal halftime deficit to secure a point in a 3-3 draw at home against New England. A full three points would have given Orlando 38 points and sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, but the point still keeps them in the hunt entering their Saturday visit to the Houston Dynamo. Orlando will hit the road twice before hosting the Fire in a Decision Day contest on Sunday, Oct. 6.
- Remaining matches: @ Houston Dynamo (9/21), @ FC Cincinnati (9/29), vs. Chicago Fire (10/6)
- Last five results: D-L-L-D-D
Chicago Fire (9-12-10, 37 pts.)
The Fire picked up a much-needed three points in a seismic 4-0 victory over visiting FC Dallas last weekend, giving them 37 points on the season through 31 matches played. The win moved the Men In Red level with eighth-place Montreal on points, but beneath them in the standings due to win total. The Fire will now look to capitalize on this weekend's visit to FC Cincinnati, who have been eliminated from postseason contention with the league's lowest point haul to date. Cincinnati will first face a midweek meeting with Atlanta United FC on Wednesday.
- Remaining matches: @ FC Cincinnati (9/21), vs. Toronto FC (9/29), @ Orlando City SC (10/6)
- Last five results: L-W-L-D-W
Montreal Impact (11-16-4, 37 pts.)
As mentioned above, the Impact are level with the Fire on 37 points, but remain ahead on total wins with three matches still to play. Montreal missed a chance to go above the playoff line last weekend, when they dropped a 1-0 result at home to FC Cincinnati. The Impact have won just twice since June 29, and face a difficult three-game stretch to close their regular season campaign despite two of those matches being played at home. Their chase for a postseason spot in the East resumes with a visit to the LA Galaxy on Saturday.
- Remaining matches: @ LA Galaxy (9/21), vs. Atlanta United (9/29), vs. New York Red Bulls (10/6)
- Last five results: D-L-W-L-L
New England Revolution (10-10-10, 40 pts.)
Since head coach Bruce Arena took charge of the team in mid-May following Brad Friedel's dismissal, the Revolution have lost just twice and find themselves in a favorable position entering the regular season's final stretch. The Revs are above the line in seventh place with a three-point advantage on Montreal and Chicago and a game-in-hand as well. New England have cooled off a bit in recent weeks -- having won just once and drawn four times in their last seven games -- and will regret not picking up full points from their aforementioned draw at Orlando City SC last weekend. Their final four matches are all against teams currently above the playoff line in each conference, the first of which is this Saturday at home against Real Salt Lake.
- Remaining matches: vs. Real Salt Lake (9/21), @ Portland Timbers (9/25), vs. New York City FC (9/29), @ Atlanta United (10/6)
- Last five results: D-W-D-L-D
New York Red Bulls (12-13-5, 41 pts.)
The Red Bulls will be feeling the most comfortable about their postseason chances entering the week, currently on 41 points with a game-in-hand on Montreal, Chicago, Orlando, and Columbus. Still, they've lost three straight games going into Wednesday night's visit to the Portland Timbers, and each of their final four matches are against postseason contenders with two on the road and two to play at Red Bull Arena.
- Remaining matches: @ Portland Timbers (9/18), vs. Philadelphia Union (9/22), vs. D.C. United (9/29), @ Montreal Impact (10/6)
- Last five results: D-W-L-L-L