Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire 05-14-2011 - Preview

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Toronto FC
2 - 2
Final
Chicago Fire
MLS Regular Season
May 14, 2011
7:00pm EDT
BMO Field
MLS LIVE

Preview: Reds look to find home form against Chicago

Toronto FC return to BMO Field looking to regain their winning ways when they play host to the Chicago Fire. TFC won for the first time in seven games last weekend at home, but fell 1-0 at FC Dallas at midweek. The Fire haven’t won in six games but have played to a draw in three in a row, last a scoreless tie with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at home.

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REFEREE: Elias Bazakos. SAR (bench): Hector Vergara; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Edvin Jurisevic MLS Career: 11 games; FC/gm: 26.6; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 3; pens: 0

INJURY REPORT: TORONTO FC – OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (R knee surgery recovery); FW Alan Gordon (adductor strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Keith Makubuya (adductor strain); MF Gianluca Zavarise (adductor strain) … CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: MF Mike Banner (L Achilles tendinitis); DF Steven Kinney (R Achilles repair); GK Sean Johnson (R quad strain); MF Patrick Nyarko (concussion); DOUBTFUL: MF Marko Maric (L deltoid sprain/contusion); QUESTIONABLE: MF Logan Pause (L hamstring strain)

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Julian de Guzman
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Dan Gargan … CHI: Gonzalo Segares, Diego Chaves

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (9 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 14 goals … Fire 3 wins, 14 goals … Ties 3
AT TORONTO (5 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 10 goals … Fire 2 wins, 9 goals
RETURN MATCH: 8/21: Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC, 7 p.m.

LAST YEAR (MLS):
5/8: TOR 4, CHI 1 (LaBrocca 24; White 47; Barrett 66, 69 – Pause 51)
9/8: CHI 0, TOR 0
•    The Fire haven’t won in three meetings vs. Toronto FC. The teams played to a second draw in that time at Toyota Park last year; Toronto FC won at BMO Field.
•    Toronto FC have yet to win at Bridgeview, the teams playing to three draws there, while the Fire have one win (in 2008).
•    Coaches record: Aron Winter v CHI: first game … Carlos de los Cobos vs. TOR: P2 W0 L1 D1

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC weren’t able to build on a first victory in eight games, falling 1-0 to FC Dallas on Wednesday evening at Pizza Hut Park. TFC has 10 points from 10 games on the season, in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    Just after the stroke of haltime, the hosts were awarded a penalty when Toronto center back Adrian Cann pulled down Dallas defender George John on a free kick service. Referee Yader Reyes saw enough to point to the penalty spot, and from the resulting spot kick, Daniel Hernandez sent goalkeeper Stefan Frei the other way.
•    TFC head coach Aron Winter made one change to the team that defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at BMO Field. Danleigh Borman came back in at left back for Mikael Yourassowsky.
•    TORONTO FC (4-1-2-3): Stefan Frei - Richard Eckersley, Dicoy Williams, Adrian Cann, Danleigh Borman - Julian de Guzman - Jacob Peterson, Tony Tchani - Nick Soolsma (Maicon Santos 58), Alen Stevanovic (Mikael Yourassowsky 72), Joao Plata (Javier Martina 50).

TEAM NEWS
•    Toronto FC lost for the third time in five games, and conceded their second penalty kick of the season, both coming in the last three games.
•    “It makes me upset because we are improving every game, we’re playing well, but with those things you can never win the game. Every week it gets worse,” Toronto FC coach Aron Winter said.
•    TFC were shut out for a fourth time in the last six games, scoring three goals over that time. They scored six goals in their first four games of the season.
•    “I thought we came out fairly well, creating a few chances in the first half,” Julian de Guzman said. “But, the penalty took the game away from us a bit. We need to be better in games like this if we are going to challenge for a playoff spot.”
•    The loss was also the third in four games away from BMO Field this season for TFC – they have just one point from their travels. In the history of the club, Toronto FC have won just nine of 64 games away from home, with 13 draws.
•    “It’s a mental game — we have to find a way to get results away from home if we are to make the playoffs,” de Guzman said. “It’s the whole transition from playing at home in front of the fans and playing away without that atmosphere. It’s easy to get excited to play at home — the crowd pumps you up, makes you excited. The players dream of playing in that environment.”
•    Winter made very few changes to his team after changing his tactics some for the Houston match, where he put de Guzman in a deeper-lying holding role in front of the back four, instead of a more advanced spot.
•    “It’s ... better for Julian, it’s better for the system,” Winter said. “We’ve tried to play with him on the right half, but he’s had some difficulties. And now we’re looking at his performance and the way he played [Saturday against Houston] — he played very good."
•    TFC have allowed one goal in each of the last two games, conceding three goals twice in the previous three.
•    “There are two sides that he plays in that position,” Winter said. “When we don’t have the ball he’s a lock on the door, and when we do have the ball he’s a man that can play soccer and define the game from the left and the right.”

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire played to a third consecutive draw, this time reaching a scoreless result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire have 7 points from 8 matches on the year, sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The best chance in the game came late in the second half when Eric Hassli was put in alone behind the back four, but Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway came off his line and took the ball off Hassli's foot.
•    It was the only save Conway was required over the match; Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Jay Nolly was called upon to make two saves.
•    Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos made no changes to the team that drew 1-1 with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
•    CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Jon Conway - Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares - Dominic Oduro, Dan Paladini, Corben Bone (Baggio Husidic 74), Marco Pappa - Gaston Puerari (Bratislav Ristic 84), Diego Chaves.

TEAM NEWS
•    While the Fire were able to come away with a point for a third consecutive match, they still have not won since the 3-2 win against Sporting Kansas City on March 26.
•    "We had control of the game, maybe 75 minutes, but at the end we had some problems," Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos said. "We felt some frustration because we had the opportunity to win this match. We could resolve this game in the first half because we had two or three very good chances to score."
•    Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway recorded his first shutout since the 2007 season, when he was with the New York Red Bulls. Conway has made four starts in a row since taking over for Sean Johnson between the posts for Chicago, allowing four goals. It was the first shutout of the year for the Fire.
•    “It was great that we got our first zero of the year, but unfortunately we weren’t able to score tonight. That’s really hasn’t been a problem for us, we’ve been able to put goals in the back of the net,” Conway said. “Now we just need to piece it all together a full and complete game.Obviously we take some positives from this game – one is that we kept a zero on the board.”
•    The Fire have allowed two goals over the last two games after allowing 10 in a four-game span. They still rank 15th in goals allowed this season (1.63 per game).
•    “I have confidence though because we are working hard and improving defensively,” de los Cobos said. “At the beginning of the season we were giving up a lot of goals but through the last three games, it’s only been two. We are changing now, we need to be positive about this because the improvement is there.”
•    It was the first time this season the Fire were shut out at the attacking end, the last team in MLS this season to be blanked offensively.
•     “We are missing very good chances to score,” said de los Cobos. “When you score you strain the confidence of the guys and the players on the field. When you score you are changing what is happening at this moment on the field because the other team needs to attack, needs to open his lines.”
•    The Fire ran out the same lineup in consecutive games for the first time this season.
•    “We have a different midfield now and I think with Corben [Bone], Gaston [Puerari] and Daniel [Paladini] we have a better opportunity to possess the ball. I think we’ve done well to block in the midfield,” de los Cobos said. “The answer to me about keeping the formation is easy because when I changed it at the end of the game [vs. Vancouver] the team lost strength in the middle. The last 15-20 minutes of the game we lost the ball and control of the match for that reason.”