They’ve done it.
After a season full of ups and downs, a Fire playoff spot has officially been clinched after Wednesday’s 4-1 thrashing of San Jose at the Avaya Stadium.
Now it’s time to turn our attention towards New York City FC tonight, where playoff seeds and possible first round byes are still up for grabs.
With both teams coming off positive performances in their last outings, and each still having something to play for, this match is shaping up to be a cracker. With that, let’s see how things are looking for both sides.
As I said last week, if a win wasn’t in the cards against the Earthquakes, then a positive team performance was necessary at the very least. Thankfully we got both, and it’ll give the team some much-needed confidence heading into this tough matchup.
Pauno opted to start Mihailovic next to Dax in the midfield, and it paid dividends. The creative spark he brings in his play did wonders to link the midfield and the front three, and ultimately culminated with him scoring his first professional goal to get the ball rolling.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes with a similar lineup at home tonight, especially since the Fire still have a lot to play for. There have been whispers that Schweinsteiger was in contention, but at this point it’s not worth the risk. I’d rather let him regain his full fitness and hit the ground running come playoff time.
NYCFC hasn’t necessarily been firing on all cylinders recently, but they’re always a threat from top to bottom. There’s not much else to be said about this team, who are currently in second place in the East/Supporters Shield race.
David Villa and Jake McNamara are absolutely clinical up top, and with Andrea Pirlo feeding them balls from the midfield, they’ve been a recipe for disaster for most teams in the league this season.
They have also been fairly solid on the road this year, which will (hopefully) be met by the Fire’s strong form at Toyota Park.
Tonight is another great opportunity for the Men in Red to take a step forward as playoffs approach, and possibly even better their seeding situation as well. It’s going to be a battle, but I think the boys have what it takes to at least see this game over the line, and get a positive result after 90 minutes.
Prediction: 2-2 draw.
As always, you can find me on Twitter @kieran_ruane leading up to kickoff for some more bad predictions if you feel so inclined. Until next time, peace.