All the good vibes that came from the Fires first busy stretch of the season are pretty much gone now.
The Fire took seven of a possible nine points in a three-game in nine-night stretch, which included matches with both of the conference leaders in Major League Soccer.
And then came Saturday's visit to lowly Portland and a 2-1 loss created by an own goal, the ball bounding into the net off the knee of Fire captain Logan Pause. Needless to say the second busy stretch of the season didnt start well, and now the Fire (4-3-3) must rebound with a Wednesday home match against FC Dallas (3-6-4). This three-games-in-seven-days binge ends at Columbus on Saturday.
The FC Dallas visit, in which the Brimstone Cup is on the line, is eerily reminiscent of the match with Portland. The Fire has yet to play well against the Timbers, who came into MLS last season. The Fire is 0-3-0 vs. Portland, and the last loss was a problem.
"It was frustrating for us," admitted Fire coach Frank Klopas. "We didnt deserve to walk away with a loss."
But thats what happened, as the clubs three-game unbeaten streak came to an abrupt halt.
The Fire hasnt played well against FC Dallas, either. Wednesdays visitors have never lost at Toyota Park, going 5-0-1 when traveling to play the Fire in Bridgeview.
"Its a quick turn-around (from the loss at Portland)," said Klopas. "Weve got to put that game in the past and focus on what we have to take care of on Wednesday."
FC Dallas last played on May 19, a 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union on the road. The Fire was 0-1-1 vs. FC Dallas in 2011, the draw coming in the season opener at Pizza Hut Park on March 19. The Fire has beaten FC Dallas just once in the last 10 meetings, in 2009 at Pizza Hut Park.
Fire player personnel director Mike Jeffries was the coach of the Dallas Burn, the original name of the team, and took Dallas to the playoffs in 2001 and 2002.
Both teams will be without key players. FC Dallas will be minus Brek Shea, who is serving a three-game suspension for kicking a ball at an assistant referee in a match against Columbus. The Fire will be without defender Arne Friedrich, who is nursing a right hamstring sprain.
Chris Rolfe remains questionable with a sprained ankle suffered in training three days after he rejoined the Fire following a three-year stint in Denmark.