While surging Nashville SC has already made history by earning a postseason spot in their expansion year, the Chicago Fire are simply trying to stay above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.
Nashville aims to extend its unbeaten stretch to five games when its hosts the desperate Fire on Saturday night.
It's been a remarkable first MLS season for Nashville (7-6-7, 28 points), which won just once in its first six matches but is 6-2-6 since that early rut. Currently sixth in the East, Nashville improved to 3-0-1 over its last four with a 1-0 win over Montreal on Tuesday -- making it the sixth club in league history to secure a playoff spot during its expansion season.
"I think the expansion thing played against us a little bit in what people expected of us -- that's fair," veteran and former Chicago midfielder Dax McCarty said.
"You want to prove to people quite frankly, they have no idea what they're talking about in terms of how successful a team can or can't be."
Chicago (5-9-6, 21 points) is another of those franchises to earn a playoff berth in its first season. Now, it's hoping to reach the postseason for the first time since 2017. The Fire currently hold the 10th and final playoff spot in the East, but they are tied on points with Inter Miami CF and D.C. United.
The club's 1-0-2 stretch ended with a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday. That left Chicago 0-6-3 on the road in 2020.
"We're still in control of our fate and we are going to keep fighting and keep going with everything that we have because that's what we want," Fire midfielder Gaston Gimenez said.
With a goal against the Union, Chicago's Robert Beric increased his team-leading total to 10 on the season. Nashville's Randall Leal, meanwhile, moved into a tie for his club's lead with three goals after scoring against Montreal this week.
--Field Level Media