Chicago seemingly has the right opponent to end its struggles when the Fire host the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
The Fire (3-5-8, 17 points) have two losses and three ties in their past five MLS matches under interim coach Frank Klopas to sit four points below the Eastern Conference playoff line.
If the Fire were looking for positive vibes, they didn't get them after a 4-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday.
"It's heartbreaking to lose, not be able to keep going," Fire goalkeeper Spencer Richey said. "But that's life and that's football sometimes. So, this one will hurt for a little bit, but we'll have to get up off the mat and get ready for Saturday.
"For me personally, and I'm sure a lot of other guys feel this way, that you want to get up back out on the field again, and you want an opportunity to redeem yourself."
Enter the Crew (7-6-3, 24 points), who have won two straight, both at home where they are 6-1-2.
"One of the biggest things in sports is momentum," Crew midfielder Aidan Morris said. "Now it's turned in our direction and it's a matter of sustaining that."
Columbus' problem is on the road, particularly in Chicago. Yes, the Crew defeated the Fire there in July but it was just their second road win in the series in 25 games in all competitions (13 losses, 10 ties) back to 2007.
Since that 3-2 victory, the Crew are 1-7-6 in their past 14 MLS road games, including a 1-5-1 mark this season with three straight losses. They have scored 25 goals at home but only eight (1.14 goals per game) on the road.
The Crew will look to Cucho Hernandez to increase their productivity.
He can tie the season franchise record set of teammate Lucas Zelarayan (2021-22) and Jeff Cunningham (2001) by contributing a goal or an assist in eight straight games.
Hernandez has three goals and six assists during his streak.
-- Field Level Media