Returning to training Tuesday, the Chicago Fire put Sunday's disappointing draw behind it and began to focus on the upcoming two-game road trip.
There is much about the trip to Seattle on Saturday (9 p.m., NBC Sports Network) and Toronto FC on Sept. 11 to grab the Fire's attention.
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"It's very, very crucial for us to get points there," defender Bakary Soumare said. "It's not going to be easy, but we've got to get it done."
The Fire (10-10-5, 35 points) needs to pick up points on the road to stay in the playoff race. The Fire remains stuck in seventh place, 2 points behind New England and Houston for the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth.
"It's tough just the way the game ended," Fire coach Frank Klopas said of Adam Moffat's game-tying goal in the 90th minute Sunday against Houston. "But we've just got to move forward.
"We've got to find somewhere to get points, especially on the road in these nine games. There's a lot of conference games, a lot of teams are going to play each other, and a lot can happen."
"Everyone's going to be fine," forward Mike Magee added. "Today's our first day back, and it was kind of heartbreaking to know the importance of 2 more points.
"But I think we've turned the corner and turned the corner awhile ago in terms of the direction we're going, and we're still moving forward."
Nothing good has happened lately for the Fire on artificial-turf fields, however, and that's what the Fire will find itself on again at Seattle.
Both teams will lose key players to national-team duty. The Fire will miss new central midfielder Arevalo Rios from its starting lineup.
"We just have to see the week in training and try some different guys in that position and go from there," Klopas said. "Obviously, we have guys that can play there: Logan (Pause), (Daniel) Paladini's played there, Alex in the past has played there. … We have to see where they are from a fitness standpoint this week."
The schedule will be no friend to the Fire either. Six of the final nine games are away from Toyota Park. But the Fire does have strong finishes in its history.
The 2011 season ended on a 7-2-1 run. The club fell just short of the playoffs that season, but that finish probably would be good enough this year.
"We need points," Magee said. "We can't look back and think of our struggles on turf or our struggles on the road. We just need to know that the teams that want it more make the playoffs, and that's the end of that conversation."
There is a growing feeling around Toyota Park that there will be more changes in the Fire's front office sometime before the season ends next month, though no official announcements are planned.
The MLS roster-freeze deadline is Sept. 13. Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon said he doesn't expect the Fire to add any players before the deadline.
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