Two of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer will look to continue rolling Sunday when the Chicago Fire host Orlando City SC.
Both the fifth-place Lions (10-6-7, 37 points) and the eighth-place Fire (8-7-8, 32 points) reside in Eastern Conference playoff positions. Neither team advanced beyond the first knockout round of the Leagues Cup, giving the clubs over two weeks to recuperate and hope that their pre-tournament momentum continues.
Chicago is 5-1-0 in its last six regular-season contests, including a three-match winning streak and shutout streak. The Fire have never recorded four consecutive shutouts in their club history.
The one blemish within the Fire's six-match span was a 3-1 loss at Orlando on July 1. The Lions' victory was part of a 6-2-5 run for Orlando City over their last 13 regular-season matches.
Even with this success, Orlando coach Oscar Pareja said the time after the Leagues Cup elimination was spent "trying to optimize the team in every single aspect" for the home stretch of the regular season.
"It has been a good time, and now ... it's obviously a very important time for us towards this final phase and qualify the team to the playoffs," Pareja said.
The postseason is an equally large target for the Fire, who have reached the playoffs just once in the last 10 seasons.
"We have 11 games left and we have to fight until the end," midfielder Gaston Gimenez told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's always our goal to get into the playoffs. ... We're on a good path, and we look to reach that goal."
Chicago goalkeeper Chris Brady is questionable due to a leg injury and Rafael Czichos is suspended due to caution accumulation. Federico Navarro missed the Fire's last four regular-season games due to a leg injury but is expected to be available after seeing some action during the Leagues Cup.
Lions midfielder Junior Urso is questionable due to a right leg injury. Urso played with Orlando City from 2020-22 and spent the first part of the 2023 season with Brazilian club Coritiba before signing a new contract with Orlando in July.
—Field Level Media