When the New York Red Bulls (17-10-6, 57 points) walk into Toyota Park, and step onto the field to face the Fire (8-19-6, 30 points) for the third and final time this season, the thought of playing spoiler to Jesse Marsch's group would be a fitting conclusion in the eyes of interim coach Brian Bliss.
The last time the Fire tasted a home loss against the Red Bulls, Bob Bradley, the Men in Red's inaugural head coach and then-New York/New Jersey MetroStars marched into Soldier Field, and walked away with a 3-0 victory on May 14, 2005.
A Fire win against the Red Bulls, who've already clinched the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, could shake up the MLS Supporters' Shield race on #DecisionDay.
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"That would be great," said Bliss, whose training session Wednesday was attended by newly appointed General Manager Nelson Rodríguez. "Obviously it would be a win, if we can win at home, for ourselves and for our fans who have supported us all year. There's nothing better than upsetting somebody else's tea party. If we can do that and play that role, I think guys can walk off the field and say they at least accomplished something at the end of the season."
Some notes from training...
- Whether younger players enter the fold come Sunday's regular-season finale is still up for debate. Bliss was receptive to the notion when it was first broached prior to the Fire's convincing 3-1 win over the New England Revolution on Oct. 3. The likes of Homegrown midfielder Collin Fernandez, goalkeeper Alec Kann and others come to mind, but Bliss may be up against the wall.
“I’d like to," Bliss added. "Look, the league is built for a reason the way it is and when you’ve got New York and Dallas fighting for the Supporters’ Shield, it’s tough to say, ‘Alright, I’m going to throw three guys in there.’ I think we’d be disingenuous to Dallas. I’m not even saying that the younger guys wouldn’t give the performance that a senior guy would.”
- Two USL players were invited to train with the club this week: Saint Louis FC centerback James Musa rejoined after enjoying a stint during the previous international break; and Louisville City FC midfielder Charlie Adams was brought in as a guest player.
- Midfielder Razvan Cocis took a couple knocks in the 4-0 loss at D.C. United over the weekend, and was held out of practice along with defender Ty Harden and forward Mike Magee, who did not travel. Cocis should return to full training on Thursday.
- With the Fire missing out on the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons and the 2015 campaign nearing its end, contract talks are fast approaching. Deals for Harden, Magee and midfielder Matt Watson are set to expire, and "a handful" of others have options that could be exercised.
“I would say 50 percent, maybe, that are either out-of-contract or on an option, and 50 percent are guaranteed [for 2016]," Bliss said.