Preview: Fire out to snap winless run vs. confident TFC

CHICAGO FIRE vs TORONTO FC
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
August 21, 2011
7 p.m. ET (Galavisión; GolTV Can.)

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Two teams needing to start to put together wins if they are going to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs meet Sunday evening when the Chicago Fire play host to Toronto FC. The Fire are coming off a 15th draw this season, an MLS single-season record, in a 1-1 result Thursday with D.C. United. TFC put an end to a six-game league winless streak in league play last weekend, a 1-0 home win vs. Real Salt Lake, then won in the CONCACAF Champions League at midweek.

REFEREE: Paul Ward. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Steven Taylor; 4th: Landis Wiley. MLS Career: 32 games; FC/gm: 23.3; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 11; pens: 7

INJURY REPORT

  • CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Steven Kinney (L groin strain); MF Marko Maric (L ankle posterior capsulitis); DOUBTFUL: DF Mike Banner (R knee meniscectomy)
  • TORONTO FC – OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (R knee surgery recovery); DF Adrian Cann (R knee surgery recovery); DF Dicoy Williams (R knee surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Eddy Viator (L hamstring tightness); MF Leandre Griffit (abdominal strain); MF Eric Avila (R hamstring tightness); PROBABLE: FW Ryan Johnson (ankle sprain); GK Stefan Frei (knee contusion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Diego Chaves, Cory Gibbs, Dominic Oduro, Gonzalo Segares
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Yamith Cuesta, Dan Gargan, Cristian Nazarit, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause … TOR: Danleigh Borman, Terry Dunfield, Ryan Johnson, Javier Martina, Mikael Yourassowsky

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (10 meetings): Fire 3 wins, 16 goals … Toronto FC 3 wins, 16 goals … Ties 4
  • AT CHICAGO (4 meetings): Fire 1 wins, 5 goals … Toronto FC 0 wins, 4 goals … Ties 3
  • Goals by the Fire’s Marco Pappa and Orr Barouch overcame strikes from TFC’s Joao Plata and Maicon Santos as the teams reached a 2-2 result in their first meeting, May 14 at BMO Field.
  • The Fire haven’t won in four meetings vs. Toronto FC. The teams played to a third draw in that time earlier this season; Toronto FC won last year 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: P1 W0 L0 D1 … Frank Klopas vs. TOR: first game

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • 5/14: TOR 2, CHI 2 (Plata 9, Santos 47 – Pappa 63, Barouch 75)
  • Toronto FC got off to an ideal start. Joao Plata collected the ball on the left flank and ran toward the top of the box, curling a low, right-footed shot inside the far post for a 1-0 advantage.
  • Shortly after the break, TFC doubled their margin when Maicon Santos fired a speculative shot from 30 yards out which went right through the legs of Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway.
  • Fire manager Carlos de los Cobos inserted Orr Barouch, and the 19-year-old striker quickly made his mark. He earned a foul at the top of the box in the 63rd minute, and Marco Pappa curled a magnificent left-footed free kick that found the top right corner.
  • Chicago completed the comeback 13 minutes later. Corben Bone sent in a ball from the right which crossed the face of the goal before an unmarked Barouch connected with his knee on a sliding effort, bundling the ball over the line.
  • TORONTO FC (4-1-2-3): Stefan Frei - Richard Eckersley, Dicoy Williams, Adrian Cann, Dan Gargan - Julian de Guzman, Jacob Peterson, Tony Tchani - Nick Soolsma (Matt Gold 87), Maicon Santos (Javier Martina 84), Joao Plata (Alen Stevanovic 61)
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-4-1): Jon Conway - Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares – Dan Paladini - Dominic Oduro (Bratislav Ristic 93+), Corben Bone, Gaston Puerari (Orr Barouch 58), Marco Pappa - Diego Chaves (Baggio Husidic 91+).

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire had their winless streak hit 10 games, once again settling for a share of the points in a 1-1 draw with D.C. United on Thursday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire have 21 points from 24 matches on the year, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Fire took the lead in the 59th minute. Patrick Nyarko rounded Dejan Jakovic on the right flank and sent in a curling cross that United defender Daniel Woolard could only flick into the path of a wide open Grazzini at the back post, and he side-volleyed a shot off substitute goalkeeper Steve Cronin’s hands.
  • But United pulled even 14 minutes later. Dwayne De Rosario's deflected cross found Josh Wolff in the area, and after a quick one-two with Quaranta back at the edge of the 18, Wolff hammered the return pass into the roof of the goal from the corner of the six-yard box.
  • Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas made no changes to the team that was pulled back into a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-2-2): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan, Yamith Cuesta, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo - Sebastian Grazzini (Daniel Paladini 72), Marco Pappa (Diego Chaves 86) – Patrick Nyarko (Orr Barouch 86), Dominic Oduro.

TEAM NEWS

  • With the draw, the Fire set an MLS single-season record. It was their 15th deadlock of the campaign, surpassing the FC Dallas total of a year ago (when they went to the MLS Cup Final).
  • "Obviously it's frustrating a bit. I thought our players came out with a sense of urgency; they put everything to the line. It's frustrating when you're dominating a game and you don't win,” said Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas. “I'm proud of the players and what they put into it. They had a lot of chances and we deserved to win this game. Unfortunately that's how it happens sometimes."
  • The Fire come into the weekend 10 points out of the wild card spots with eight games to play.
  • Sebastian Grazzini scored in a second consecutive match for the Fire. In the four matches they’ve played since coming to the club, summer transfer window signings Grazzini and Pavel Pardo have combined for three goals and an assist among the six goals the Fire have scored in that time.
  • Grazzini was taken off by Klopas after 72 minutes. “I wanted to push him more today but he gave everything he had,” Klopas said. “It's a big difference when he's on the field. He can make things happen when he gets the ball. He scored a great goal. He made some very good passes. We're a very different team when he's on the field."
  • Six of the Fire’s draws have come after scoring the first goal. “We have been very strong on defense since preseason, and [Thursday] was not an exception,” said Gonzalo Segares. “But one chance and they get a goal. It's frustrating working so hard and having them score on one opportunity. We just have to keep working hard and try to get three points."
  • For a second consecutive game, Patrick Nyarko started at striker, paired with Dominic Oduro. While Nyarko began as an out-and-out striker when he came to Chicago from Virginia Tech University, over the past year and a half he’s played almost exclusively in a wide role.
  • “The idea came to the staff really late,” said Nyarko. “On the day of the(New York) game they decided to make that switch. It was about the personnel New York had and trying to take them out of their comfort zone. I’m versatile. I can play a number of different positions so they decided to move me up there to cause trouble for the Red Bull defense.”

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC put an end to a six-game winless run, getting the game’s only goal in a victory against Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at BMO Field. TFC has 23 points from 24 games on the season, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came in the 77th minute. Joao Plata chased down a Matt Stinson cross on the left side, and turned back into the box. He tried to find Peri Marosevic cutting toward goal, but the ball slipped past both he and RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, settling inside the far post.
  • Real hit the woodwork twice in the first half and TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic made four saves in keeping the clean sheet.
  • TFC head coach Aron Winter made five changes to the team that played to a 3-3 tie with D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Milos Kocic came in between the posts for Stefan Frei, and Julian de Guzman, Matt Stinson, Danleigh Borman and Peri Marosevic came in for Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan, Terry Dunfield and Ryan Johnson in a new-look team.
  • TORONTO FC (3-1-3-3): Milos Kocic - Andy Iro (Ty Harden 65), Torsten Frings, Richard Eckersley - Julian de Guzman - Matt Stinson (Doneil Henry 77), Eric Avila, Danleigh Borman - Peri Marosevic, Danny Koevermans (Javier Martina 74), Joao Plata.

TEAM NEWS

  • After running out his team in a 4-3-3 since his arrival at the club, TFC boss Aron Winter opted to use a 3-4-3 tactical scheme.
  • “The thing that I want in the future when rebuilding in the end is when an opponent is playing like Real Salt Lake is that you can play also 3-4-3 like we did today and I have to give a big compliment to the team because we have done very well,” Winter said. “If you watched the whole game and the possession we had with the ball, against a very good opponent … I think that is a big compliment for the guys that you are watching also that every game there is progression and improvement.”
  • Torsten Frings, who had been playing as a holding midfielder since being signed by the club as a designated player, moved to a free role in the back behind man-markers Richard Eckersley and Andy Iro.
  • “It depends how the opponent is playing. We had to think a lot about – should we play with four defenders or should we play with three defenders, two markers and a free man,” Winter said. “At the end we made the choice because it was the best choice at the moment for the players that we had.”
  • Julian de Guzman filled a slightly deeper lying role in the center of midfield.
  • “Our approach was to have three guys in the center covering the two, three against two in the back,” de Guzman said. “This allowed Stinson and Borman to put pressure on their fullbacks whenever they do overlap because they are a team that likes to bring numbers forward. Then we had Plata (Joao Plate) and Peri (Peri Marosevic) who are normally wingers but this time were more tucked in the middle in the midfield. It was pretty much man-to-man throughout the midfield and everyone had to stay on top of that.”
  • There was also a change in goal, where Milos Kocic came in for Stefan Frei, out with a leg injury picked up during the week.
  • “A big compliment for him. The moments he had to come out of the box he did very well and it is not easy when you play only two games until now,” Winter said. “A big complement for everybody – also for the guys that came in, also for all the young guys. I’m happy that finally the way we played resulted in a victory.”
  • Peri Marosevic made his first start for TFC, after coming on as a halftime substitute in each of his first two appearances after being obtained from FC Dallas on Aug. 2. “It’s always nice to be getting on the field especially with someone who encourages you to go out there and be free and go out there with confidence on attack,” Marosevic said.
  • Midfielder Matt Stinson, an 18-year-old Toronto FC Academy graduate, made his first MLS start after five appearances as a substitute.
  • On Thursday, TFC got their CONCACAF Champions League group stage campaign started in fine fashion, a 2- 1 win in Panama against Tauro FC. Ryan Johnson and Julian de Guzman scored two minutes apart midway through the first half to send the Reds on their way; Luis Moreno pulled a goal back in the 76th minute.