Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview
TORONTO FC vs CHICAGO FIRE
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
Aug. 23, 2014 (WEEK 24, MLS Game #224)
7 p.m. ET (SNet 360; My50 Chi)
Two teams at opposite ends of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference meet on Saturday evening when Toronto FC take on the Chicago Fire at BMO Field. TFC sit in third place in the division, despite falling to a 4-1 loss at leaders Sporting Kansas City last weekend on the road. The Fire are just three points out of fifth place and the final postseason spot in the conference, despite falling 1-0 to the Montreal Impact on the road last weekend.
REFEREE: Daniel Fitzgerald. AR1 (bench): Joe Fletcher; AR2 (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Silviu Petrescu
MLS Career: First game.
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Michael Bradley, Steven Caldwell, Jackson, Justin Morrow, Dominic Oduro, Collen Warner, Warren Creavalle, Doneil Henry … CHI: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Mike Magee, Chris Ritter, Gonzalo Segares, Patrick Ianni
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (17 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 22 goals … Fire 8 wins, 28 goals … Ties 6
AT TORONTO (7 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 16 goals … Fire 4 wins, 17 goals … Ties 2
FUTURE MATCH: 9/13: Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. CT
7/2: CHI 1, TOR 1 (Shipp 57 – Jackson 42)
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. TFC’s Jackson and the Fire’s Harry Shipp traded goals on either side of halftime to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw, July 2 at Toyota Park.
- TFC has not defeated Chicago since a 4-1 win May 8, 2010, a span of nine games without a victory in the series.
- The Fire have taken points from their last four trips to BMO Field, with two wins and two draws, dating back to the 2011 season. Toronto FC have never won at Toyota Park.
- Coaches record: Ryan Nelsen vs. CHI: P3 W0 L1 T2 … Frank Yallop vs. TOR: P13 W5 L2 T6
LAST MEETING (MLS)
- The match turned in the 29th minute when Toronto’s Luke Moore was shown a straight red card by referee Sorin Stoica for an elbow to the head of Fire midfielder Chris Ritter.
- But the visitors took the lead in 42nd minute when Jackson, unmarked at the back post, headed home a cross from Jermain Defoe from the right-wing corner.
- The Fire pulled level in the 57th minute from a short corner when Mike Magee slipped the ball to rookie Harry Shipp in the left side of the area and he cut inside before unleashing an unstoppable shot that tipped past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare, Patrick Ianni, Greg Cochrane (Juan Luis Anangono 73) - Grant Ward, Chris Ritter (Alex 46), Jeff Larentowicz, Harry Shipp - Quincy Amarikwa, Mike Magee.
- TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Mark Bloom, Nick Hagglund, Steven Caldwell, Justin Morrow - Dominic Oduro, Jonathan Osorio (Bradley Orr 87), Collen Warner, Jackson - Luke Moore (ejected 29), Jermain Defoe.
Toronto FC saw their two-game winning run put to a sudden halt, falling 4-1 to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Sporting Park. TFC sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, with 32 points from 22 matches.
- Sporting were ahead by two goals from the penalty spot before the game was barely a half-hour old. First, Jackson brought down Benny Feilhaber with a bad tackle near the end line, and referee Drew Fischer pointed to the spot. Dom Dwyer converted the penalty with a drive into the roof of the net in the 18th minute.
- Dwyer doubled the lead in the 32nd minute, this time after winning the spot kick himself. TFC defender Doneil Henry chopped down Dwyer just outside the six-yard box, and this time Dwyer put his attempt low and inside the right post.
- The Reds pulled a goal back early in first-half stoppage time. Dominic Oduro found himself with room at the top right corner of the penalty area and sent a ball to the near post, where Gilberto back-heeled it past SKC 'keeper Jon Kempin with a nifty finish.
- Sporting iced the game in the 64th minute. Graham Zusi's corner kick popped out of a crowd and fell to Soony Saad outside the area, and he collected the ball and teed it up in one motion, driving it through traffic and past TFC 'keeper Joe Bendik to make it 3-1.
- SKC finished the scoring in the 77th minute on yet another set piece. Saad this time deflected a Zusi corner kick on to a sliding C.J. Sapong at the back post, and he slid in to knock it home from close range.
- TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made one changes to the team that claimed a 3-2 victory against the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Jackson came into the back four in place of Warren Creavalle.
- TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Jackson, Doneil Henry, Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow - Dominic Oduro (Daniel Lovitz 74), Collen Warner, Michael Bradley (Kyle Bekker 84), Jonathan Osorio - Gilberto, Luke Moore (Bright Dike 78).
- Toronto FC ended their four-game road swing with two wins and two losses. They return home for back-to-back games at BMO Field before going to Philadelphia Union on Sept. 6.
- “We’ve said from the start, it’s going to be a roller-coaster season,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. “You don’t automatically turn yourself into something; it’s taken Kansas City and Real Salt Lake way longer than it took us. We are who we are and we’ll keep working to get better. We have to deal with these adversities. It’s good to deal with these experiences, these hardships of football when things aren’t really going your way.”
- Gilberto scored for a third consecutive game, and now has five goals in his debut MLS season. He has four goals in the last six league games.
- After making each of his 15 league starts as a wide midfielder, Jackson started on the right side of the back four and played the full 90 minutes.
- “I had no fullbacks,” Nelsen said. “Mark Bloom’s injured, Warren Creavalle’s injured and even if Nick Hagglund could go out there, Steven Caldwell’s injured. We’re down to bare numbers. Jackson had to do a job down there, like he has all season for us, and I thought he did really well. He did very admirably in how he performed and tried his best.”
- Dominic Oduro had his fourth assist in the last six games, all since regaining a starting place in a wide attacking midfield role.
- Collen Warner recorded his second assist in as many games, making a 12th consecutive start following his arrival from the Montreal Impact.
- In addition to the two penalty kicks, Toronto FC conceded two goals from corner kicks, and have now allowed seven goals from dead-ball situations, tied for fourth-most in MLS this season. It was their first set-piece goal allowed since July 5, though they have conceded three penalties in that time.
- “If you don't defend set pieces, which is Kansas City's strength and something we talked about and worked on … if you take them away and look at the actual chances in the game, we created the way better chances,” said Nelsen.
- Striker Bright Dike made his 2014 season debut after suffering a torn Achilles tendon, coming on for the final 12 minutes of the match. “It was good for Bright to get on the scoresheet and it was nice for the referee in Kansas City to play on as they saw his boot go into the back of the net,” Nelsen said. “That sort of summed up our night, to tell you the truth.”
- Jermain Defoe returned to full training after missing three matches with a groin strain, and is expected to be available for selection for the Chicago match.
- “Well, it’s the three,” Nelsen said. “It’s the combinations of Jermain and Luke or Jermain and Gilberto, or Gilberto and Luke. That’s what we’re trying to get, so that if we have injuries, we don’t skip a beat. That’s the method in the madness, so if Defoe’s 100 percent back, it might be a Luke and Defoe, or Gilberto and Defoe combination. But whatever pairing that we have, we can hopefully not skip a beat and maximize the best of their abilities.”
The Chicago Fire saw their undefeated run come to an end after three matches, falling 1-0 to the Montreal Impact on Saturday evening at Stade Saputo. The Fire are in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 25 points from 23 games.
- The game lone goal came in the 84th minute. Maxim Tissot's smart pass found rookie left back Eric Miller in the Fire penalty area. The ball was tackled away but bounced for Marco Di Vaio at the top of the box, and he put a clinical finish past goalkeeper Sean Johnson into the far inside netting.
- Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush was called upon to make two saves as they put an end to their losing slide.
- Fire head coach Frank Yallop made three changes to the team that defeated the New York Red Bulls 1-0 at Toyota Park. Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Greg Cochrane all came into the team, in place of Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares and Quincy Amarikwa.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane - Alex (Quincy Amarikwa 61), Jeff Larentowicz, Matt Watson, Harry Shipp (Sanna Nyassi 68) - Razvan Cocis - Mike Magee (Grant Ward 86).
- The Fire concluded a lost week with the defeat in Montreal following their US Open Cup semifinal defeat, their first loss in three league games since the 5-1 loss at San Jose on July 23.
- “You never give up until there’s no points available, right?” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. “It’s been a tough ride because we’ve had 13 ties, and I don’t think I’m being generous, but six of them we should have won. Maybe there was a couple we should have lost, but you get two more points for the win. But maybe we’re not good enough to be higher up the table because we’re not [good enough].”
- It was the second time in four games the Fire were shut out at the attacking end. They have not scored more than one goal in their last nine league games, and have scored more than two goals in a game just once in MLS play (the 5-4 win vs. New York on May 10).
- “This is our season, in terms of performance,” Yallop said. “We play OK at times, we weren’t very dangerous, to be honest, going to goal and when it comes to the crunch we didn’t get the job done. It’s disappointing, but it’s where we are right now. We’re inconsistent, we’ve showed consistent performances before, but we got beat 6-0 on Wednesday and now we have a chance of bouncing back and we lose. It was going to be 0-0 or 1-0 to them, that’s what I felt.”
- Said midfielder Matt Watson: “We weren't clinical enough in the final third. We need to find a way to get goals, maybe support the strikers more. We let the field get spread. We were hitting long balls to the strikers and then they were kind of wrestling for it by themselves with no support coming. We need to do better moving forward as a team.”
- Razvan Cocis made a second consecutive start, coming into the underneath role with Mike Magee run out as the lone out-and-out striker.
- The Fire have added former Toronto FC striker Robert Earnshaw, a Wales international who was last with Blackpool in the English Championship (second tier).
- “We weren’t very dangerous to be honest going to goal and basically when it comes to the crunch, we didn’t get the job done. It’s disappointing, but it’s kind of where we are right now,” said Yallop. “… We have to be more positive going forward. We have to dig deep and get that extra run for that extra minute and make sure we get beyond people and not play in front of the players. So I think that’s the difference we need to make.”