TORONTO - Despite his team's inability to close out games, Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas believes believes his squad's playoff chances are still in its hands.
The Fire played to a 1-1 draw against Toronto FC Wednesday night in front of a season low 15, 217 at BMO Field.
Chicago (10-11-7) entered the game with just one win in its previous four contests while trying to secure the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The draw leaves the Fire in a three-way tie with Houston and New England for the final playoff spot.
"We've made up a lot of ground," said Klopas. "Right now, we're right there. In this league, we just want to be in the position where we're playing in the post season. We want to put ourselves in a spot where we can play for something and we're right there."
In injury time, Toronto's Doneil Henry picked up a yellow card for a bad challenge and will be suspended for the next game due to yellow card accumulation. Chicago's Dan Paladini could not capitalize on the free kick.
"It's been frustrating," said Fire forward Mike Magee. "Over the last stretch of games, it feels like we have the inability to score two goals and we have the inability to get a shutout. Playoff teams get shutouts and playoff teams put teams away. We're not doing it on either end, so it's a lot of bad feelings after games to say the least."
Both teams had an opportunity take a 2-1 lead in the 79th minute.
First, Toronto's Justin Braun headed an Alvaro Ray through ball but keeper Sean Johnson was there for the save.
Moments later, Quincy Amarikwa got behind the Toronto defenders, but Joe Bendik came out to challenge the Fire forward.
With the draw, Toronto's winless streak stretched to six games (0-3-3).
Chicago dominated much of the first half, out-shooting Toronto (4-13-11) 6-0 20 minutes in, but had just one goal to show for their dominance.
Dilly Duka opened the scoring for the Fire at the 20-minute mark as his chip into the box for Mike Magee bounced past Toronto keeper Joe Bendik.
"We put on the pressure in the first 20, then we got a goal and we stopped," said Duka. "They came back and scored a quick one right after and we were on our heels for the rest of the half. These games matter, especially making it in to the playoffs."
Added Klopas: "I think we started the game really well, we got the goal, and then they got momentum, we let them back in to the game a little bit and then it became difficult."
Robert Earnshaw leveled the score 1-1 three minutes after Duka's opening score as he stepped around Fire defender Gonzalo Segares and beat Sean Johnson for his seventh goal of the season.
Earnshaw left the game moments later favoring the back of his leg. He was replaced by Justin Braun.
Richard Ekersley had an excellent chance to give the Reds a 2-1 lead in the 26th minute, but put his strike from the box just wide of the goal.
In the 29th minute, Toronto FC midfielder Bobby Convey received a yellow card for his tackle from behind on Patrick Nyarko. But Nyarko was unable to take advantage of the free kick.
With time winding down in the first half, Reds midfielder Alvaro Rey hit the woodwork with his strike.
Before the half was over, Braun picked up Toronto's second yellow of the game for a foul.
NOTES: Chicago entered Wednesday having won the previous four meetings between the two clubs. The Fire had won just once in their previous four league matches entering their contest with the Reds. ... Toronto has not defeated Chicago since a 4-1 victory May 8, 2010. ... The Reds suffered their largest margin of defeat on Saturday, a 4-0 loss, to the Portland Timbers. ... On Monday, Toronto acquired striker Bright Dike from Portland in exchange for midfielder Maximiliano Urruti. ... Prior to its game against Chicago, Toronto announced chief scout Pat Onstad has left the club. ... MLS Commissioner Don Garber took in Wednesday's match. ... The two sides will meet for the second and final time, on Oct. 19 in Chicago.