Chicago are now winless in their last five matches following their 0-0 draw with Nashville SC, while the Pigeons dropped the Hudson River Derby on Saturday, 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls.
Under less than ideal conditions in the windy city, Raphael Wicky saw his side struggle to find space when they had the ball, though they were able to keep an offensively gifted side like Nashville at bay, collecting their first point in their last five games.
He has not said it in public, but judging from the lineup that we saw on the field on Saturday, it seems like Wicky has accepted that this team are unlikely to qualify for the postseason in 2021 as six players in the starting 11 were 23 years of age or younger.
It is still a mathematical possibility that they can make the playoffs, but hope is fading fast for this side, who have fought hard over the past couple of months but failed to generate enough positive results.
The last time they battled New York this year in early August, they struggled to create many good scoring opportunities, firing only one shot on target in a 0-0 draw.
Having played the second-most games in MLS, and with 13 points to make up, draws will not do them much good at this stage of the campaign.
Five of their remaining seven fixtures will be on the road, where they have only won once all season, although they have produced many favourable results at home, losing only two of their last 10 encounters at Soldier Field dating back to June 26.
Ronny Deila will hope that his New York squad can avoid their longest winless run of the campaign and maintain their narrow lead in third place in the Eastern Conference.
The former Celtic boss was forced to shuffle his lineup over the weekend because of a pair of late red cards in their game last Wednesday as the Boys in Blue struggled to find their touch against their arch-rivals this past weekend.
While they have had their share of chances over their previous two fixtures, their commitment moving forward has not always been there, and they have struggled in the final third, failing to beat Red Bulls keeper Carlos on their four shots on target this past weekend, while the winning goal against them came from Bronx native Omir Fernandez.
New York have had a knack for scoring late goals this season, finding the back of the net nine times in the final 15 minutes of play, the fifth-most among MLS clubs.
Typically sitting in third place would be a reasonably comfortable position to be in at this stage of the campaign, but this year has been so unpredictable that the Pigeons cannot afford to take their final eight regular-season games for granted as only three points separate them from potentially dropping below the playoff bubble.
With the race so tight, you would think that New York should not have any issues focusing on their next task to beat the Fire, but with an upcoming home fixture this weekend against Nashville before facing the Red Bulls again, it will be interesting to see if they can keep their attention on the here and now and not what lies ahead.
Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina stopped all four shots that he faced versus the Black-and-Gold for his second career clean sheet, in his fourth appearance for the club as Bobby Shuttleworth has been the reserve keeper over the past three games.
Mauricio Pineda and Jhon Espinoza were re-inserted in the starting 11 on Sunday, along with Ignacio Aliseda, as Carlos Teran missed through suspension, Boris Sekulic was injured and Chinonso Offor was on the sidelines.
Sean Johnson played a big part in keeping his team in the game versus the Red Bulls on Saturday, stopping five of the six shots that he faced, with many of them being quality opportunities.
Maxime Chanot and Keaton Parks did not feature in that match after they were both dismissed in their midweek encounter with the Red Bulls, while Valentin Castellanos was their most dangerous player once again but failed to score for the first time in his previous three games.
Chicago Fire possible starting lineup:
Slonina; Kappelhof, Teran, Pineda, Bornstein; Gimenez, Espinoza; Herbers, M. Navarro, F. Navarro; Beric
New York City FC possible starting lineup:
Johnson; Tinnerholm, Sands, Callens, Chanot; Zelalem, Morales; Medina, Moralez, Andrade; Castellanos
We say: Chicago Fire 1-4 New York City FC
The Fire did a great job eliminating mistakes while not allowing a potent Nashville team in dangerous areas, but they are facing a New York team who will be in a foul mood after failing to beat their state rivals in both encounters last week and with a top-notch striker eager to score more goals.