BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Two games remain for the Chicago Fire, but midfielder Pavel Pardo will be limited to Chicago's home finale on Oct. 22 against the Columbus Crew. Pardo picked up a red card during the Fire's 2-1 loss to FC Dallas on Wednesday and is suspended for Saturday's match at D.C. United.
Naturally, the Fire talk has started to shift toward Chicago's 2012 season. While not mathematically eliminated from this year's postseason, the Fire's bid for the playoffs is unrealistic with 37 points (7-9-16), two games remaining and a six-point gap between Chicago and the final wild-card spot.
For a second straight season and for the third time in the Fire's 14-year history, Chicago will miss the playoffs.
Pardo signed a six-month contract for the Fire, and on Wednesday he expressed his desire to stick with the organization for the long-term.
"Of course I'd like to come back," Pardo said. "I was talking about this situation with the people from the Fire, and they want me to be here for the next year. And I want to be here, but not for one year. I'd like to be here for more years. I've integrated with this team, the club and the fans. I'm very happy playing for the Chicago Fire."
Pardo netted a goal during his Fire debut to salvage a 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 3. Since Pardo's arrival, the Fire have posted a 5-3-4 record and 19 points.
If Chicago maintained that points ratio for an entire 34-game season, the Fire would have wound up with 54 points in 2011. That would have been good enough to win the Eastern Conference, even if the Union wins its final two games.
The Fire have shown through their late run that there are some elements of a nucleus to build around with Pardo and midfielder Sebastian Grazzini if he stays healthy.
"We had 16 to 18 players from last year, and I think it takes some time for players to gel," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said Wednesday. "I think the late additions have helped. I think there's a good core there that you can build on."
As for Klopas removing the interim tag and taking on the coaching role full-time, he did not want to talk about his future following Wednesday's loss. Klopas has posted a 6-5-10 record (28 points) since replacing Carlos de los Cobos.
"For me, we're going to wait to the end and see," Klopas said. "There's going to be a time and place for everything. Right now the time is for us to think about the game in D.C. and nothing else. My focus is going to be on that, preparing the team, getting the team ready to get a win there."