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Fire facing crucial match against Revolution


Revolution at Fire

The facts: 7:30 p.m., Ch. 50.

Since its sluggish start, the Fire has been a team on the outside looking in. Having finally caught up, the team remains without direction, moving sideways more than forward.

“We are going to need more energy,” forward Dilly Duka said after the Fire’s 1-1 draw against Toronto FC on Wednesday night. “It hasn’t been an easy stretch, and we’ve played some good teams. We have a home game against New England, and we have got to have energy for 90 minutes and keep it positive.”

Sustaining energy and effort has been a crucial issue of late for the Fire. The team is 0-1-2 in its last three games, a frustrating stretch preventing the team from finally bypassing New England and Houston for the Eastern Conference’s fifth and final playoff slot.

Instead, the Fire (10-11-6, 36 points) remains mired in on the edge.

“We have to get out of seventh place,” Duka said.

The team must find its swagger and a sense of urgency in the crucial showdown with New England on Saturday night at Toyota Park.

The Fire controls its own destiny.

“It really is in our hands,” coach Frank Klopas said. “We want to put ourselves in a spot where we can play for something and we are right there.”

The Fire must reverse a recent pattern of failing to maintain leads. The team scored first in its last three matches, only to end up with the last-second loss against Seattle and draws against Toronto and Houston.

“I think we do create chances but we [have] got to find a way to get that second goal and just limit our mistakes late,” Klopas said.

The Fire maintained the lead against Toronto for a scant three minutes.

“It’s not good enough,” star forward Mike Magee said emphatically. “Playoff teams gets shutouts and playoff teams put teams away so we’re not doing it on either end.

“It’s a lot of bad feelings after games to say the least.”

The Fire remains a point behind New England and Houston. New England defeated the Fire 2-0 on Aug. 17, keyed by a spectacular goal in the 54th minute by Juan Agudelo.

The Fire is bolstered by the return of midfielders Joel Lindpere and Arévalo Ríos, both of whom missed the previous two games because of their respective World Cup national team commitments.

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