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Thursday, October 22

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Fire Fri Oct 23 2009

Fire Clinch, Heading to the Playoffs

Being the only major league team in Chicago to make the playoffs this fall, the Fire certainly ended on a good note. With a 1-0 win over Chivas USA last night, the Fire have clinched a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the 11th time in 12 years.

With less than ideal conditions--constant cold rain and heavy winds--the players found footing the ball difficult and sharp cuts were even harder to manage. Despite these problems, Chicago dominated most of the first half, with three consecutive corner kicks in the 15th minute. Seven minutes later, the Fire shot three shots after a fourth corner kick, but none reached the back of the net. The game entered halftime with neither team scoring.

Then in the second half, the winning goal was delivered. After a flurry of opportunities that fell short, Fire Coach Denis Hamlett subsituted Cuauhtemoc Blanco for Marco Pappa in the 64th minute. Three minutes later, Blanco sent a bending corner kick from the left side into the box and Chivas player Eduardo Lillingston misdirected a header into the back of his own net.

That one goal was enough to seal the win and guarantee the Fire second place in the Eastern Conference. On top of that, the victory secured the Fire home field advantage for the Semifinal Series, playing their first game of the series on the road and returning to Chicago to play the second game. Now the Fire must wait for the remainder of the weekend results to see when and where and whom they will play in the opening round of the Playoffs.

Tickets are available for the Eastern Conference Semifinal home match starting at $22. For more information, please call 888-MLS-FIRE.

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