As things stand now it looks like the Chicago Fire are headed for another year without playoffs.
The Fire are in last place in all of Major League Soccer with 19 points and after Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal defeat, a clear positive thing from this season and something to look forward to in the later part of the season is now gone.
The Fire’s playoff chances are slim, sitting eight points out of the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference with 12 matches to go. Despite the dreary outlook, midfielder Razvan Cocis said the mood in the team hasn’t dropped.
“We had a tough week,” Cocis said after Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Orlando. “Not the greatest. We lost two games, we lost in the cup, which hurt us a lot. It’s still hurting us, but we talked about it and we just have to keep going. There’s just no other way. We talked about who wants to be in the locker room and who wants to keep going. Then he needs to stay, he needs to work more and more in the practice session to get better and be better as a team, as individuals.”
After Cocis said this during the postgame press conference, Veljko Paunovic jumped in with an unsolicited comment to emphasize the desired mentality for the rest of the season.
“We said there are only two ways here,” Paunovic said. “One is not acceptable, which is abandon. The second one is we continue working hard, we work together and we have to keep the spirit and the positiveness in our group, which is very important because this is all a process and this is all great opportunity for us all to become better professionals and for sure better people because these kind of challenges are very important and we have to appreciate this opportunity actually.”
Even if the Fire fail to make the playoffs as expected, it would be notable if the team has a solid run down the stretch. Actually winning a road game, something the team hasn’t done in more than two years, would be a positive and should be one of the team's goals the rest of the season.
Players like Luis Solignac, who was very active in the final third after subbing on Sunday, and David Arshakyan, who is still awaiting his visa, can impress down the stretch to give the Fire’s roster a better outlook heading into 2017.
“We need real men to step up,” winger David Accam said. “Obviously we are down, but we can’t stay down. We need everyone to step up and I think today most of the guys stood up and they showed real character. So at the moment it’s good.”