The final Thursday night game of the regular season emanates from Toyota Park, where the Fire - despite sitting no lower than second in the Eastern Conference for much of the season - must get at least a tie to assure a playoff spot.
CHICAGO (10-7-12) vs. CHIVAS USA (13-9-6), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
Chicago is tied for the league lead in ties with 12, and that's all it needs to clinch second place in the Eastern Conference and a playoff spot. A point would eliminate any need to calculate tiebreakers with three Eastern Conference rivals who can catch the Fire if they win and it loses.
Chicago has not won for nearly two months, since it beat Colorado Aug. 23, and in the six games played since has lost two and tied four, including a 0-0 game with the Revs last weekend. Defender Gonzalo Segares missed that match with hamstring and knee problems but got in a full training session Wednesday. Several players, including defender Wilman Conde, have been battling the flu.
Chivas USA squandered a great chance to take over the Western Conference lead last weekend when it tied San Jose, 2-2, at Home Depot Center, which is where it will conclude its season Sunday against Houston. It has lost twice to Chicago this season; 3-2 at home in league play, and 1-0 at Toyota Park in the SuperLiga. Yet its run of six unbeaten games should continue with at least a point.
Prediction:Chicago Fire 1, Chivas USA 1.
Last weekend: 5-2. Season: 102-115.