What the playoff picture looks like for the Fire


What the playoff picture looks like for the Fire

For the first time since 2012, the Chicago Fire will be in the postseason.

The Fire clinched a playoff berth with a 4-1 win at San Jose. Now it’s about playoff seeding.

The Fire were the fourth team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a playoff spot. All six spots are locked up, but four playoff seeds remain unclear. Here’s a look at the final matches and scenarios for playoff seeding heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Check back to this page, it will be updated as results come in.

Last update: Oct. 15, 10:14 p.m.

Toronto FC

  • Record: 20-5-8, 68 points
  • Clinched Supporters' Shield
  • Final game: at Atlanta
  • Last result: 1-0 win against Montreal

With a draw or win in the finale at Atlanta, Toronto would have the highest point total in league history.

New York City FC

  • Record: 16-9-8, 56 points
  • Final game: vs. Columbus
  • Possible seeds: 2-5
  • Earns No. 2 seed with win against Columbus
  • Last result: 2-1 loss at New England

Jack Harrison's red card doomed City at New England and the No. 2 seed is still in play heading into the final weekend.

Chicago Fire

  • Record: 16-10-7, 55 points
  • Final game: at Houston
  • Possible seeds: 2-5
  • Earns top-three seed (home first-round match) with win at Houston
  • Can earn No. 2 seed with win and New York City FC draw or loss
  • Last result: 3-2 win vs. Philadelphia

Things were almost disastrous for the Fire when Philadelphia led at halftime. Even a draw would have dropped the Fire to fifth. The Fire still have a shot at the No. 2 seed.

Atlanta United FC

  • Record: 15-9-9, 54 points
  • Final game: vs. Toronto
  • Possible seeds: 2-5
  • Earns top-four seed (home first-round match) with win against Toronto
  • Can earn No. 2 seed with win and NYCFC and Fire both failing to win
  • Last result: 0-0 draw at Red Bulls

Atlanta couldn't get a win at the Red Bulls and fell to fourth. Toronto isn't playing for much, but still isn't an easy opponent in the finale.

Columbus Crew

  • Record: 16-12-5, 53 points
  • Final game: at NYCFC
  • Possible seeds: 2-5
  • Can earn No. 2 seed with win and Fire and Atlanta both failing to win
  • Last result: 1-0 win at Orlando

Columbus stayed hot with a win at Orlando and got some help to stay in the race for the No. 2 seed. The Crew head to NYCFC with a chance to earn a home game in the playoffs.

New York Red Bulls

  • Record: 13-12-8, 47 points
  • Final game: at D.C.
  • Playoff seed: No. 6
  • Last result: 0-0 draw vs. Atlanta

The Red Bulls are locked into the sixth seed after drawing against Atlanta.

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question


As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

Bastian Schweinsteiger has delivered on the promise of a big name star since joining the Fire in late March. He has produced on the field, drawn lots of attention to the club, the team has won enough to get into its first postseason since 2012 and, until recently, he stayed healthy.

However, the 33-year-old German has played 19 minutes in the previous six matches and told reporters on Wednesday that he will not play in the regular season finale in Houston on Sunday. He missed four straight matches with a calf injury before returning against New York City FC on Sept. 30 for a substitute appearance.

Schweinsteiger left practice early with what appeared to be a reaggravation of the injury on Oct. 4 and now it is known that will cost him at least two games. With the playoff picture still in flux (the Fire can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the Eastern Conference), the Fire could potentially face a three-day turnaround and travel after the Houston game or could have a first-round bye. Keeping Schweinsteiger fresher for that crunch of games could end up being a good thing, but it also runs the risk of his match fitness not being at 100 percent for the postseason.

Beyond the postseason, Schweinsteiger dropped this tease of a nugget to the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz just an hour before Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez spoke with reporters for almost an hour at Toyota Park.

Schweinsteiger, who was not at training, was autographing memorabilia in the form of soccer balls, posters and jerseys. Chicago Red Stars fans may get a kick out of the fact that Schweinsteiger was wearing a Red Stars hoodie.

Initially, the club said Schweinsteiger signed a one-year contract with a mutual option. Later in the day, when asked about Schweinsteiger's future, Rodriguez said the mutual option doesn't have a set number attached to it.

"That would require a negotiation," Rodriguez said. "It was mutual in a sense of we didn’t want either party to feel bound without having had the year of experience to draw on. From our perspective, our experience has been extraordinarily positive with Bastian. We think he’s delivered across all of our expectations and we hope that we have delivered against his expectations.”

So in essence, there is no mutual option. Schweinsteiger and the Fire have to come to terms again on a deal for the German to return in 2018. That's not to say Schweinsteiger can't come back, but there's nothing in writing that binds the two together for next season.

Rodriguez said talks have only begun in the very preliminary stages at this point.

“The most that Basti and I have done is, both said, hey this has gone pretty well." Rodriguez said. "You like it. I like it... So I think we want to remain with our original plan. It was to look to have the hard discussions at the end of the season. My view is in-season negotiations always prove to be a distraction, whether to the player or to me. There can be a team element if it becomes public.

"I don’t want to speak for Basti, but from what we’ve gleaned and what he shared with us, he and (wife) Ana (Ivanovic) are very comfortable in the city. They love it. I think he’s really enjoyed the locker room, the guys, the support of the fans. I think he’s really taken to the challenge of Major League Soccer. I think the signs are positive, but again we would prefer to have the season close before finalizing anything.”

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?


Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

It's a special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast!

Dan Santaromita, Justin O’Neil, JJ Stankevitz and Tom Cooper try to answer all the questions that surfaced after the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup. What went wrong in qualifying, who was at fault, what can be fixed, will things get better? Has any American soccer fan calmed down even a week after? The four on the panel sure still are plenty fired up.