The Chicago Fire are in the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time in five years, and they’ll get to host a home game Wednesday as they take on the New York Red Bulls in the knockout round.
The Fire, who earned the third seed in the Eastern Conference this season, will have home field advantage at Toyota Park on Wednesday night, and that is a big deal for them, as they won 12 of their 17 home matches this season and earned three more draws.
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls went 5-2-10 in their 17 road matches this season, conceding 33 goals in those contests. The Fire only gave up 14 goals on their home pitch this season, while scoring 41 goals.
A big part of the reason that the Fire have been so successful at home has been because of MLS Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic, who led the league with 24 goals scored this season. Nikolic has been a consistent performer throughout the year, and his ability to get open in the box and fire home shots from close range has helped rejuvenate the Fire offense.
Midfielder Dax McCarty will also be a critical component for the Fire on Wednesday, as he looks for revenge against the team that sent him away following the 2016 season. He didn’t the most spectacular year on the scoresheet, notching four assists and zero goals for the Fire, but he will have plenty of motivation in going up against his former club.
A big question coming into the game is how much time Bastian Schweinsteiger and Juninho will bay in the contest. Schweinsteiger has played a total of 19 minutes in the Fire’s last seven matches, and Juninho had missed five games before coming on as a sub as he recovers from a knee injury.
The Fire will take on the Red Bulls beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.