Fire, Charlotte FC both angling for Eastern playoff bid

While the Chicago Fire attempt to remain in playoff position, Charlotte FC are doing all they can to keep their postseason hopes alive.

The Fire eye a third straight victory on Saturday night against visiting Charlotte, which tries to win back-to-back matches for the first time in more than four months.

Aiming for its first postseason appearance since 2017, Chicago (10-12-10, 40 points) snapped an 0-5-2 rut with last weekend’s 1-0 win at the New York Red Bulls. Then, facing a Lionel Messi-less Inter Miami at home, the Fire scored three times during an 11-minute span of the second half for a 4-1 victory Wednesday to vault over the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Maren Haile-Selassie each scored twice, and Fabian Herbers recorded three assists for Chicago, which last won three straight in July.

“Now, we have to be more consistent and maintain that kind of level almost every game,” Fire coach Frank Klopas said.

“Everything is in our hands.”

Chicago conceded two second-half goals during a 2-1 loss at Charlotte (8-11-12, 36 points) on May 17. However, Charlotte is 0-5-3 on the road since a 1-0 victory at the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 27.

Charlotte did snap an 0-2-4 rut with Wednesday’s 3-0 home victory over Toronto FC. Karol Swiderski scored via a pair of penalty kicks and assisted on Brecht Dejaegere’s first MLS goal in the second half for Charlotte.

The club enters Saturday two points below the playoff line in the East, but it has three teams ahead to clear on that postseason quest.

“The head goes straight to Chicago, because we didn’t do anything (Wednesday),” Dejaegere said. “… We didn’t achieve anything yet.”

Swiderski has recorded four of his team-leading 11 goals over his last four matches.

Shaqiri has posted five goals on the season but has yet to score in back-to-back matches in 2023. Five of Haile-Selassie’s team-leading six goals have come at home this season for the Fire.