Fire must make hay on road against Sounders
BY PATRICK Z. MCGAVIN For Sun-Times Media September 6, 2013 11:06PM
Updated: October 8, 2013 6:07AM
The mood inside the Fire’s locker room at Toyota Park on Sunday was somber and restrained. It’s hard to imagine an atmosphere so eerie and subdued for a team that didn’t lose.
The sense of a missed opportunity was palpable. The reaction was natural after a seemingly secured victory dissipated into a sorrow-filled tie when the Fire surrendered a goal to the Houston Dynamo in the 90th minute of a 1-1 draw.
“We really needed to get those points, especially being at home,” coach Frank Klopas said. “You cannot afford really to get just one point there.”
The Fire (10-10-5, 35 points) remain two points behind New England and Houston for the fifth and final playoff slot in the Eastern Conference. The schedule turns decidedly more challenging beginning with the team’s road game Saturday night against the Seattle Sounders FC.
Six of the final nine games are on the road, where the Fire has won twice. The team understands the urgency.
“We have to get three points from somewhere else,” forward Chris Rolfe said. “The schedule gets tough for us, but [Seattle] is going to be missing a few guys.”
If ever there was a good time to play the Sounders (13-8-4, 43 points), the Fire seems to be catching a significant break. Midfielders Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans and forward Eddie Johnson are out because of their involvement on the U.S. national team in the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Costa Rica and Mexico. The three missing Sounders players are arguably their three most important offensive pieces.
The Fire will be without Estonian midfielder Joel Lindpere and Uruguayan acquisition Arévalo Ríos.