Coming off playing three games in eight days, with two road games in that mix, the Chicago Fire have a much more friendly schedule upcoming.
The Fire have three straight matches at home and no midweek matches that stretch the depth and fitness of the roster.
First up is a meeting on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union. The match will be televised on CSN+ (check channel locations here) with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.
“It’s a really big stretch for us,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. “We obviously have these three games at home. It’s important for us to get back on track. It’s a big opportunity to come home and play in front of our fans and we’ve been good at home this year. It’s going to take an effort from everybody, every single player on the team to get back in the playoff race.”
A week after playing Philadelphia (11-9-7, 40 points), the Fire host Toronto FC. Six days after the Toronto match, D.C. United comes to Toyota Park on Sept. 16. All three teams are currently in playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Even if the Fire (5-12-8, 23 points) likely need to win all three to get back into the playoff race, it is a chance for the Fire to get some positive momentum back after the 6-2 loss to D.C. last weekend. The Fire went down a man in the first half due to a Khaly Thiam red card. Thiam will serve his red card suspension Saturday against the Union.
“For me it’s the same as a loss,” midfielder Razvan Cocis said of the lopsided score. “It was pretty tight until (the red card). It’s not too much time to think about. We have to learn from our mistakes, but we also have to keep going. Our next goal is the next game. I think most of the players learned a lot from that game and we just have to think about the next game.”
Both the Fire and the Union will endure absences due to international play. David Accam (Ghana) and David Arshakyan (Armenia) will be missing for the Fire. Goalkeeper Andre Blake (Jamaica) and midfielder Alejandro Bedoya (USA) won’t be there for Philly. John McCarthy will start in goal for the Union in place of Blake. Injury-wise, Luis Solignac is the only Fire player listed on the injury report. He is questionable with ‘right hip pain.’
These two teams played twice already this season with the Fire winning 1-0 at Toyota Park back on April 2 and the Union winning a 4-3 affair at Talen Energy Stadium on June 22. Roland Alberg, who scored a hat trick against the Fire in the second meeting, hasn’t started in the past five matches.
“They were two close games so we analyze them,” Cocis said. “We know their players, we know their style and we just have to work on that.”
Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday (coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live)
TV: CSN+ (channel finder)
Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.