Preview: Playoff spots on line for Fire, rebounding TFC
CHICAGO FIRE vs TORONTO FC
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
August 4, 2012 (WEEK 22, MLS Game #210)
7:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2; GolTV Can)
A pair of teams needing points for their playoff futures meet at Toyota Park when the Chicago Fire take on Toronto FC. The Fire currently hold fifth place in the Eastern Conference and the last available playoff position, following their 1-1 road draw with San Jose last weekend. Toronto FC sit in last place in the East after their three-game winning streak came to an end in a home loss to Houston last weekend, though they rebounded with a quality win at midweek in the CONCACAF Champions League.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Corey Parker; JAR (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Matthew Foerster
MLS Career: 148 games; FC/gm: 28.6; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 30; pens: 50
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- CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); DOUBTFUL: DF Steven Kinney (R adductor strain)
- TORONTO FC – OUT: GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); FW Danny Koevermans (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: FW Eric Hassli (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Dan Gargan, Gonzalo Segares … TOR: Richard Eckersley, Ashtone Morgan
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Sebastian Grazzini, Pavel Pardo, Patrick Nyarko … TOR: Ryan Johnson, Torsten Frings. Reggie Lambe, Terry Dunfield, Doneil Henry
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Fire 5 wins, 21 goals … Toronto FC 3 wins, 18 goals … Ties 4
AT CHICAGO (5 meetings): Fire 2 wins, 7 goals … Toronto FC 0 wins, 4 goals … Ties 3
FUTURE MATCH: 9/12: Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire, 7 p.m. ET
- A goal from Patrick Nyarko was the decider as the Fire took a 3-2 victory in the first meeting between the teams, April 21 at BMO Field.
- Toronto FC have never won at Toyota Park. The teams had played to back-to-back draws in Bridgeview before the Fire’s won a year ago.
- The Fire took a 2-0 win in the second meeting last year, on Aug. 21, their first win vs. Toronto FC since 2009.
- Coaches record: Paul Mariner vs. CHI: first game … Frank Klopas vs. TOR: P2 W2 L0 D0
LAST MEETING (MLS)
4/21: TOR 2, CHI 3 (Lambe 36, 40 – Oduro 1, Segares 41, Nyarko 58)
- The Fire took the lead just 25 seconds in. Patrick Nyarko picked the pocket of TFC sweeper Torsten Frings just outside his own area, and Dominic Oduro streaked onto the loose ball, took a touch and slotted under TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
- But TFC took the lead in short fashion by halftime on a pair of goals from winger Reggie Lambe. In the 36th minute, Lambe gathered a punched clearance from a corner kick, made space and ripped a right-footed rocket from outside the box into the top left corner.
- Four minutes later Lambe was there again. Ryan Johnson made a darting run down the left side and crossed for Matt Stinson, who could only deflect the ball to the back post where Lambe smashed it in for Toronto's first lead of the season.
- The lead lasted barely a minute. The Fire won a set piece in the 41st minute, and Argentinean maestro Sebastian Grazzini floated a perfect ball to the back post for Gonzao Segares to flick past a sprawling Kocic.
- The visitors went back in front in the 58th minute. Receiving the ball in midfield, Oduro turned provider, slipping a ball through perfectly for Nyarko to run onto. The Ghanaian playmaker took a touch around the on-rushing Kocic and finished into the open net for the eventual winner.
- TORONTO FC (3-4-2-1): Milos Kocic - Richard Eckersley, Torsten Frings, Adrian Cann - Matt Stinson (Luis Silva 68), Terry Dunfield (Julian de Guzman 58), Eric Avila (Junior Burgos 85), Ashtone Morgan - Reggie Lambe, Joao Plata - Ryan Johnson
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan, Arne Friedrich, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa (Federico Puppo 65) - Sebastian Grazzini (Orr Barouch 79) - Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro (Daniel Paladini 84).
The Chicago Fire weren’t able to hold out for a quality road win, the San Jose Earthquakes scoring a dramatic stoppage-time equalizer as the teams reached a 1-1 draw Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Fire are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points from 20 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: SJ 1, CHI 1
- The Fire took the lead in the 37th minute. Chris Rolfe slipped in front of the Quakes’ back four to receive a pass from Patrick Nyarko, and curled a perfectly placed effort with the outside of his boot inside the left post from beyond the area.
- The Quakes went a man down well into stoppage time after Quakes striker Alan Gordon was sent off following a second caution.
- But there were yet late heroics for the home side. A long ball was chested down by Chris Wondolowski at the edge of the area, and Steven Lenhart ripped a low drive through the crowded area and into the corner of the goal for the equalizer, eight minutes deep into added time.
- Fire head coach Frank Klopas made two changes to the team that suffered a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Arne Friedrich came back from suspension in place of Gonzalo Segares, and Patrick Nyarko started in place of the suspended Marco Pappa.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Dan Gargan - Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause - Patrick Nyarko, Alex (Hunter Jumper 83), Chris Rolfe (Daniel Paladini 89) - Dominic Oduro (Sherjill MacDonald 64).
- The Fire have scored two goals in their five games combined, but have still come away with five points in that time (1-2-2).
- “We played very well, created a lot of chances, and scored a great goal. We came here to take three points, but the way the game ended we feel very disappointed,” Chicago head coach Frank Klopas said. “We played against the best team, but it hurts the way it ended… Sometime the game is harsh. It’s a good point to take away on the road.”
- Goalkeeper Sean Johnson faced a season-high 11 shots in the draw with San Jose, making a season-high 10 saves. It was a single-game high for Johnson’s MLS career.
- The 98th-minute goal was the third-latest ever scored in MLS, and the second-latest scored to secure a result (an own goal was scored nine minutes into stoppage time in a 1-1 Dallas-Columbus draw in 2002). Last year, current Fire striker Dominic Oduro scored a goal 10 minutes into second-half stoppage time in a 3-1 Houston loss to D.C. United.
- “I thought as a whole we played well. San Jose has been a team that has capitalized late in games all year … We were disappointed not to take away three points but we need to look at it as a positive moving forward,” said Johnson. “We came in to a tough place to play… and on the road you always want to come away with a point but it is disappointing since we had the game in hand for so long.”
- The club’s newest Designated Player, Sherjill MacDonald, made his MLS debut, coming on for the final 26 minutes in place of striker Dominic Oduro.
- “It was a little difficult for me because it was my first game in a long time,” MacDonald said. “It wasn’t so bad, but obviously I can do a lot better and I’m looking forward to the next game.
- Chris Rolfe scored his second goal since his return to MLS and the Fire, his first since June 17. Rolfe has started the last six matches for the club. “It felt a little bit better,” Rolfe said. “We had more movement up front and more combination play. We’re happy with that.”
- The Fire’s most recent acquisition, Álvaro Fernández, received in a trade with Seattle Sounders FC, did not join the club in time for the San Jose match.
- “I think it’s important to get a guy like [Fernández],” Klopas said. “He does score goals, he’s been dangerous in the air from the games I’ve seen him. I just think he’s a very good player and he can come in and play. He’s fit, he’s been playing, he knows the league, he’s someone who’s been productive in the league.”
- The addition of the Uruguayan midfielder could mean Marco Pappa will shift to the middle of the field, while Chris Rolfe becomes a second striker.
- “Ideally, you need to have cover behind Marco where he has the flexibility to attack,” Klopas said. “He does work defensively when he plays out wide, but it’s a little bit different. He can combine, he has more space to get the ball. I think we have some flexibility to have different options depending on how we want to approach the game from a tactical standpoint.”
Toronto FC saw their winning streak put to an end after three games, falling 2-0 to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, with 19 points from 21 games.
- The Dynamo struck just seconds before halftime. Brad Davis looped in a lovely corner to the near post and Bobby Boswell flicked it on to the back post, where an unmarked Calen Carr headed the ball into the bottom right corner.
- The visitors doubled the margin with a late goal. Another Davis run down the left side cleared space in the middle, and he angled his cross back to an oncoming Brian Ching, who made no mistake and slotted home from the heart of the box.
- TFC head coach Paul Mariner made one change to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field. Quincy Amarikwa made his TFC debut, in place of Eric Avila.
- TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Doneil Henry (Jeremy Hall 83), Logan Emory (Aaron Maund 83), Richard Eckersley, Ashtone Morgan - Reggie Lambe, Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield, Luis Silva - Quincy Amarikwa (Andrew Wiedeman 62), Ryan Johnson.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 0, HOU 2
- TFC saw its three-game winning streak, the longest in club history, come to an end in the home loss to Houston. It was just the second loss for the Reds over the last 10 matches (4-2-4), since June 20.
- “A massive turning point today was the last kick of the first half; takes the wind out of us a little bit. I was hoping to get in at 0-0 but wasn’t the case,” said TFC head coach Paul Mariner. “We just didn’t seem to have any energy today. Houston was very well organized and they played better than we did and deserved the win.”
- The opening goal conceded in the Houston match came from a corner kick, the sixth allowed by Toronto FC from corners this season (tied for most in MLS). They have allowed eight goals from set-piece situations, tied for second-most in the league, along with Real Salt Lake (Montréal have allowed 10).
- “You’ve got to stay with your runners, you’ve got to be on your runner,” defender Richard Eckersley said. “Even if you don’t win the header you need to know [where he is]. It was damaging today, just 30 seconds before halftime. We know Houston are a good side especially on set pieces. Besides that they didn’t break us down. It’s just that the set pieces were a problem for us today.”
- In a second match without striker Danny Koevermans, out for the season with a knee injury, the newly acquired Quincy Amarikwa made his TFC debut, starting at striker and playing 62 minutes.
- The club’s other new acquisition, striker Eric Hassli, picked up in a trade with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, was not available.
- “I think that it is important that we remember we are on a good run right now and hopefully this is just a one-off ,” said midfielder Terry Dunfield, “so we can brush it aside and put it behind us as quickly as we can and move forward.”
- TFC also signed Bermuda international goalkeeper Freddy Hall, last with Northampton Town in England, after he had been trialing with the club for three weeks.
- “Freddy brings depth to our goalkeeping position and has many qualities that we like to see at this position,” said Mariner. “He performed well during his trial period with our club and played well against Liverpool. We are pleased to sign him.
- On Wednesday, TFC got their CONCACAF Champions League group stage campaign off to a rolling start, cruising to a 5-1 victory against El Salvador’s CD Aguila at BMO Field. Reggie Lambe scored two goals (17, 48), while Luis Silva opened the scoring (9), then contributed two assists. Terry Dunfield (40) and Ryan Johnson (58) rounded out the scoring.
- Here’s the TFC team: Milos Kocic; Logan Emory, Doniel Henry (76: Jeremy Hall), Ashtone Morgan, Ryan Johnson (72: Quincy Amarikwa), Luis Silva, Reggie Lambe, Torsten Frings (62: Aaron Maund), Terry Dunfield, Richard Eckersley, Andrew Wiedeman