The Fire no longer depend on themselves if they want to make the MLS playoffs following a 2-0 loss against Charlotte in Soldier Field.
The inspired performance shown in the win over Inter Miami was non-existent against Charlotte bar the opening 15 minutes.
The visitors got on the board first with a bit of luck as Ashley Westwood volleyed in a shot. Westwood was fortunate as his shot took a deflection off Wyatt Omsberg, leaving Chris Brady with no chance to make a save.
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Frank Klopas made a couple of substitutions coming out of the break, bringing on Kacper Przybyłko and Maren Haile-Selassie in place of Georgios Koutsias and Ousmane Doumbia, respectively. Selassie scored a brace against Inter Miami and made a difference coming off the bench.
This time around, Klopas’ substitutions took a while to make an impact.
Things went from bad to worse for the Fire after Charlotte were awarded a penalty following a blatant foul from Miguel Navarro. The referee didn’t see it in real time but came to a quick decision after a VAR review.
Karol Swiderski converted to put Charlotte up 2-0.
The Fire’s best moments of the game came midway through the second half.
Selassie had the Fire’s best chance up to that point as he was able to connect on a difficult cross, only to see his shot go straight at the keeper. Moments later, Przybyłko missed a clear opportunity as he found himself almost alone in front of the keeper. He completely mishit the cross and it went well high off the crossbar.
Charlotte were feeling the pressure from Chicago as a bad giveaway in their own half saw Selassie recover the ball near the area. His ensuing shot was blocked and out for a corner. Rafael Czichos had another opportunity in the 72nd minute but wasn’t able to get enough contact on the ball as his shot floated to the arms of the goalkeeper.
With the loss, the Fire fell to a three-way tie for ninth place.
As far as their playoff implications go, the Fire now face a number of scenarios.
If the Fire win their final game against New York City FC, they’re still not assured a spot in the postseason. Charlotte’s win put them back in the hunt as they’re now only a point back of the Fire with a game in hand.
What that means is not only do the Fire need to win and have Nashville beat the New York Red Bulls, they need some help from Inter Miami as that is who Charlotte will play in the next two games. Chicago needs Inter Miami to win at least one of those games.
The playoff picture is now more than blurry as the Fire head into Decision Day. Regardless of all the scenarios, the Fire need a win or else everything else becomes moot.