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Fire running out of time to make playoff push

Mike Magee

Mike Magee

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Updated: November 5, 2013 6:38AM

Fittingly, the path for the Fire moves to Washington.

The national political stalemate is a crude parallel for a team that has shown little forward momentum and has been unable to get a clear grasp of its direction or shape its own destiny.

Coming off back-to-back disappointments during an 0-1-1 stretch, the Fire (11-12-7, 40 points) finds
itself in its most precarious position since May. It is stuck in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings with four regular-season games left. The Philadelphia Union (42 points) is in fifth place, followed by the
Columbus Crew and New England Revolution (41 points apiece).

In the Fire’s 2-2 draw Saturday against the Montreal Impact at Toyota Park, forward Mike Magee scored twice, but he also failed to convert a penalty kick. The Fire also surrendered a late goal — again — in the 87th minute.

‘‘We have to find a way to win these games,’’ Magee said.

The squandered chances have been emotionally bruising.

‘‘It’s been difficult because we’ve been dropping points,’’ coach Frank Klopas said. ‘‘Every point that we drop we can’t get back, and now it’s crucial because it is toward the end.’’

At first glance, conference doormat D.C. United (3-21-6, 15 points) is just what the Fire needs when the team play Friday. But the script rarely has played out to expectations this season. The Fire discovered that Aug. 7, when United won 2-0 in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Toyota Park. Two weeks earlier, the Fire had stomped United 4-1.

With the Fire announcing midfielders Joel Lindpere and Arévalo Ríos will be unavailable later this month because of national-team commitments, the time is now.

Magee remains optimistic.

‘‘We can’t badger ourselves about what-ifs,’’ he said. ‘‘We have four games left, and we are going to make the playoffs.’’

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