Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. DC United
Venue: Toyota Park – Friday, September 16 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)
Match Odds: Chicago 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – DC United 13/5
Chicago Fire welcome DC United to Toyota Park for a key Eastern Conference battle on Friday night, with the two sides still trying to make a late playoff surge with just a few weeks of the regular season left to play.
Chicago know they need to win this game if they are to have any chance of making the top six. They sit bottom of the East on 26 points, seven behind DC in seventh, but they do have a game in hand over Friday’s visitors.
The Fire have not been able to build any sort of form at all this season. They come into Friday’s game off the back of a 2-1 home defeat to Toronto last time out and have now only won one of their last five home clashes.
However, DC’s away form doesn’t inspire much confidence for United supporters so this is set to be a cagey affair. Ben Olsen’s men have only won once away from home this season and that came back in May.
The Black-and-Red’s 2-2 draw at the Red Bulls last week should leave them in high spirits, with two goals in the final five minutes rescuing a point that looked well out of reach.
They now need to start winning more regularly to seal a playoff berth. They will only have five games to play following the game in Chicago, all of which come against Eastern opponents.
This will the 55th meeting between Chicago and DC. They played out a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park back in April this season, before DC thumped the Fire 6-2 at RFK Stadium a few weeks ago.
Chicago Fire are the only MLS club without any injury concerns ahead of this weekend’s game – a remarkable position to be in at this stage of the season. Veljko Paunovic has a full squad to choose from as he tries to give his side some late-season playoff hopes.
DC United will be without Chris Korb, Collin Martin, Chris Rolfe, Alhaji Kamara, Charlie Horton, Jared Jeffrey, Sean Franklin and Kofi Opare, so Ben Olsen really has his options stretched ahead of the trip to the Windy City.
Chicago Fire’s last five: W/D/L/W/L
DC United’s last five: D/D/W/L/D
Key Stat: Road struggles – DC United have only won one of their last 19 away games in MLS (D9 L9).
Key Player: David Accam – The Fire attacker is their most threatening player in the final third and can so often change a game in a flash. Chicago may need him to come up with some magic on Friday if they are to come away with three points.
Chicago Fire 1-1 DC United – There is so little to choose between these two sides that a draw looks inevitable on Friday night. It’s a result that will do little to help either side, but DC’s away form is a concern for them, while the Fire lack a cutting edge required to win important games such as this one.