If the Chicago Fire are unable to find their way into the playoffs, a home defeat to lowly FC Cincinnati earlier this season might be one result that comes back to haunt them.
With little room for error, the visiting Fire eye some revenge on Cincinnati when the clubs meet Saturday night.
Chicago (9-12-10) enters the weekend ninth in the Eastern Conference, but just three points behind New England, which owns the seventh and final playoff spot in the East. The Fire are coming off an impressive 4-0 home victory over FC Dallas from last weekend. C.J. Sapong had a brace and Przemyslaw Frankowski recorded a goal with an assist as Chicago did all it's scoring in the first half.
Nemanja Nikolic also scored for the Fire, tying him with Sapong for the team high with 12 goals.
"The goal numbers are great, but wins are more important and playoff soccer is most important if we can will it," Sapong told the Fire's official website. "So, whatever it takes for us to win as a team, that's what I'm willing to do and I know that's what (Nikolic is) willing to do as well."
The Fire would seem in good position to make it two in a row overall against a Cincinnati side that boasts a league-low 21 points and is already eliminated from playoff contention. However, Chicago suffered what could end up being a costly 2-1 loss to FCC (6-22-3) at home at July 13.
Cincinnati scored in the first minute of the match via Allan Cruz, but Chicago equalized through Nico Gaitan at the end of the first half. The Fire looked like it was only a matter of time before they went ahead, how Fanendo Adi scored on the counter in the 83rd minute to ultimately give FCC the road victory.
Expansion Cincinnati has won just once since beating Chicago, that came 1-0 on another first-minute goal from Cruz (six goals) at Montreal last weekend in its most recent road contest. FCC, however, suffered its seventh straight home defeat Wednesday, 2-0 against Atlanta United FC.
The 74 goals Cincinnati has conceded this season match a league record set by Orlando City in 2018.
"For playing good football, you need confidence and you need points," coach Ron Jans told Cincinnati's official website. "I think we need time and we have to show every year we're going to do better. This year, you want to beat records, but not this one."
Updated September 19, 2019