Chicago Fire 1, Toronto FC 1 | MLS Match Recap
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire were punished for their failure to convert a second half penalty kick, as Toronto FC equalized late before scoring a would-be winner that was dramatically disallowed.
Chicago and Toronto played to a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park on Saturday night, with Greg Vanney's side pulling level in the 89th minute through a strike from substitute Dwayne De Rosario before Gilberto was denied of the go-ahead strike in controversial fashion.
Lovel Palmer was almost the unlikely hero for the Fire, scoring an opener in the 11th minute that looked to be enough for much of the match. But captain Jeff Larentowicz squandered an opportunity to put the hosts 2-0 up when Joe Bendik saved his 57th-minute penalty kick, and TFC's late heroics saw the two Eastern Conference clubs split the points.
The draw leaves the Fire (5-7-15, 30 pts) languishing in ninth place in the East with just seven games remaining. Toronto (9-11-7, 34 pts) is in seventh, just outside the playoffs spots.
The hosts were unchanged following their 2-1 defeat at the New England Revolution last time out, while Vanney made five changes to his starting XI following their 2-0 reversal at home to the Philadelphia Union. Justin Morrow, Ashtone Morgan, Kyle Bekker, Jackson and Warren Creavalle came in, with De Rosario, Bradley Orr, Collen Warner, Luke Moore and the suspended Doneil Henry missing out.
The Fire raced out of the blocks and created several excellent openings before taking the lead in the 11th minute. Right back Palmer escaped his marker to meet Sanna Nyassi’s short corner from the left and deftly direct his near-post header past Bendik.
It took the visitors a while, but they eventually settled into the game. As the halftime whistle drew close, Toronto striker Dominic Oduro went to ground twice looking for a penalty but referee David Gantar waved play on while Alex saw his left-footed shot saved by Bendik at the other end.
Bendik took Grant Ward down in the 56th minute to give the Fire the opportunity to double their lead from the spot two minutes later. However, captain Larentowicz saw the resulting penalty brilliantly saved and Bendik further made amends for his error with a superb block to deny Quincy Amarikwa on the ensuing rebound.
A dramatic finish saw Toronto pull level when substitute De Rosario slotted home from close range, and the visitors almost stole all three points when Gilberto dispossessed Bakary Soumare in injury time before his finish past Johnson was waved off because of a foul by the Brazilian Designated Player on the Fire defender.
Next up for the Fire is a visit to high-flying D.C. United to Toyota Park next Saturday, while Toronto host Chivas USA a day later.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Dwayne De Rosario||The legendary Canadian attacker came off the bench and to the rescue, scoring a late goal that saved TFC from losing and almost sparked a dramatic win.|
|2||Joe Bendik||At fault for conceding a second-half penalty kick, but more than made up for it with a double save on the ensuing play. He also had a superb stop at the end of the first half to keep Toronto in the game.|
|3||Quincy Amarikwa||He was a constant threat for Chicago up top, challenging defenders with his speed, energy and athleticism.|