The Chicago Fire endured an 0-3 road trip, but get to come back home Saturday against Houston.
The Fire traveled to both coasts over the course of nine days and lost all three games so the return home was probably welcome by the team. Awaiting the Fire (1-5-4, 7 points), which sit in last place in the Eastern Conference, is the last place team in the Western Conference, the Houston Dynamo (3-6-2, 11 points).
The game will be televised on CSN+ with a 4 p.m. kickoff. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live. Check out the channel finder to see how to find CSN+.
Despite the recent losing streak and a six-match winless streak, Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez didn't call it a must-win while hosting media at Toyota Park on Friday.
"Must-win to me is when you’re facing elimination in playoffs," Rodriguez said. "In sports vernacular that to me is the only must-win game. A win would help. A loss makes it more difficult. I can’t deny those things, but it’s not must-win.”
Regardless of how important stopping the current slide is, the Fire will have to do so without a number of players. First, David Accam received a one-game suspension and a fine from the MLS Disciplinary Committee for an elbow against Connor Lade in the first half against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. This comes just after Accam made his first start in that match on his way back from injury.
Additionally, John Goossens (knee), Michael Harrington (adductor strain) and Collin Fernandez (ankle sprain) will also be out. Arturo Alvarez was listed as questionable due to hip pain in the injury report.
That obviously limits coach Veljko Paunovic's options. None of those four injured players played on Wednesday so it's possible Paunovic opts for a similar lineup with Gilberto taking Accam's place in the lineup.
The Dynamo began the season with 11 goals in the first three matches of 2016, but have scored more than one goal in a match just once in the eight games since. Giles Barnes (4 goals, 2 assists), Will Bruin (3 goals, 2 assists) and Andrew Wenger (3 goals, 2 assists) led the Dynamo's attack.
Houston also features former Fire players DaMarcus Beasley, Jalil Anibaba and Alex.
Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo
When: 4 p.m.; coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live
TV: CSN+ (Channel finder)
Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.