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Final

Preview: Fire aim to keep climbing East ladder at Toronto

TORONTO FC vs CHICAGO FIRE
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
September 12, 2012 (WEEK 28, MLS Game #261)
7 p.m. ET (TSN2/RDS2; NBC5.2)
 
Looking to end a long winless run and keep their slim playoff berth hopes alive, Toronto FC play host to the Chicago Fire on Wednesday evening at BMO Field. Now seven games without a win after their 2-1 loss at Sporting KC, TFC must win the rest of its games to have any chance of claiming a playoff spot. The Fire returned to their winning ways last time out, recording a 3-1 home win against the Houston Dynamo to move into fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
 
REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. SAR (bench): Joe Fletcher; JAR (opposite): Claudio Badea; 4th: Drew Fischer
MLS Career: 50 games; FC/gm: 22.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 4; pens: 6
 
 
INJURY REPORT:
TORONTO FC – OUT: GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); FW Danny Koevermans (L knee ACL tear); DF Ty Harden (lower abdominal strain); MF Torsten Frings (L hip); QUESTIONABLE: FW Eric Hassli (rib contusion); DF Doneil Henry (L knee tendinosis)
CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); DF Steven Kinney (R groin pain)
 
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES:
TOR: Ashtone Morgan, Terry Dunfield (Canada, v Panama); Dicoy Williams, Ryan Johnson (Jamaica, v USA)
 
SUSPENDED: none
 
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:
TOR: Torsten Frings. Ashtone Morgan
CHI: Dan Gargan, Pavel Pardo
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:
TOR: Richard Eckersley, Eric Hassli, Doneil Henry, Ryan Johnson, Reggie Lambe
CHI: Sebastian Grazzini, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro, Gonzalo Segares
 
HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 19 goals … Fire 6 wins, 23 goals … Ties 4
AT TORONTO (7 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 14 goals … Fire 3 wins, 14 goals … Ties 1
2012 (MLS)
4/21: TOR 2, CHI 3 (Lambe 36, 40 – Oduro 1, Segares 41, Nyarko 58)
8/4: CHI 2, TOR 1 (Pappa 64; Berry 84 – Johnson 16)
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, and the Fire have won the previous two. A goal from Patrick Nyarko was the decider as the Fire took a 3-2 victory April 21 at BMO Field, and a late goal from Austin Berry proved the difference as the Fire took a 2-1 come-from-behind victory Aug. 4 at Toyota Park.
  • After going since 2009 without a victory vs. Toronto FC, the Fire have won the last three meetings, beginning with a 2-0 win in the second meeting last year, on Aug. 21.
  • Toronto FC have never won at Toyota Park. The teams had played to back-to-back draws in Bridgeview before the Fire’s wins in the last two meetings there.
  • Coaches' records: Paul Mariner vs. CHI: P1 W0 L1 D0… Frank Klopas vs. TOR: P3 W3 L0 D0
LAST MEETING
  • Toronto FC struck first, as Ryan Johnson pounced on a bad back pass from midfielder Marco Pappa in the 16th minute and coolly converted past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the heart of the box.
  • But the Fire took advantage in the 64th minute, when Pappa latched onto an errant touch by Toronto defender Logan Emory, getting past an oncoming Milos Kocic and slotting a shot past defender Richard Eckersley and into the open net.
  • TFC played the last 11 minutes a man down after Emory received a second yellow card from referee Michael Kennedy.
  • Then in the 84th, rookie defender Austin Berry completed the Fire's comeback, nodding home the winner from the penalty spot off a Pável Pardo free kick from the left.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause (Alex 74), Pavel Pardo - Alvaro Fernandez (Patrick Nyarko 50), Chris Rolfe, Marco Pappa - Dominic Oduro (Sherjill MacDonald 46).
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Doneil Henry (Aaron Maund 78), Logan Emory (sent off 79), Richard Eckersley, Ashtone Morgan - Reggie Lambe (Jeremy Hall 46), Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield, Luis Silva - Ryan Johnson, Eric Hassli (Andrew Wiedeman 61).
 
TORONTO FC
Toronto FC had their winless slide extended to seven games in their last match, a 2-1 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 1 at Livestrong Sporting Park. TFC is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, with 21 points from 27 games.
 
LAST MATCH
  • TFC took the lead a minute from halftime. Robert Eckersley sent a ball over the top to Ryan Johnson, who had slipped behind Sporting's back line. He collected the ball at the edge of the penalty area and calmly slotted his left-footed shot past goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and into the lower right corner of the goal.
  • Sporting equalized on the hour mark after a fortunate carom at the edge of the penalty area. Paulo Nagamura hit a right-footed volley from Jeremy Hall's headed clearance that took a short bounce off the pitch and looped over goalkeeper Freddy Hall's head.
  • The game-winner came three minutes from time from substitute Oriol Rosell. Chance Myers laid a pass that found Rosell at the top right corner of the penalty area, and his first-time shot eluded goalkeeper Hall and rolled inside the far post.
  • TFC head coach Paul Mariner made no changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Freddy Hall - Jeremy Hall, Darren O'Dea, Richard Eckersley, Logan Emory - Andrew Wiedeman, Aaron Maund, Terry Dunfield, Luis Silva - Ryan Johnson, Quincy Amarikwa.
TEAM NEWS
  • Toronto FC saw their winless streak reach seven games, the second longest of the season after the club opened the MLS campaign with nine consecutive losses. It matches the fourth-longest winless run in club history.
  • “We had a very inexperienced team out. We tried to hit them on the break, which we did. Ryan Johnson hits the post and if it goes in it might be a different game. … We put in another great shift and I firmly believe we’re not very far away from turning the corner,” TFC head coach Paul Mariner said.
  • For a second consecutive match, Quincy Amarikwa partnered Johnson in attack, making his third start since being signed by TFC in July. Johnson scored his sixth goal of the league campaign, his first since Aug. 4.
  • “We condensed the field, we let them have it in their half of the field, we tracked our runners and if in doubt, we got it out and for the most part we did,” said Mariner. “… And we thought with Ryan Johnson and Quincy Amarikwa up front, we could hit them on the break and for the most part we did. It was going to plan.”
  • Rookie Aaron Maund made his second consecutive start and his third for TFC, all in the last five matches. Mariner also did not use a substitute in the Sporting KC match.
  • “You've got to remember that most of these boys; Freddy (Hall), Darren, (O'Dea), Jeremy have just come back from injury, Logan, Aaron Maund started his third game in MLS. Quincy's just come into the squad; so has Andrew Wiedeman,” said Mariner. “Of course as coaches, we always are critical and we look inwardly first could we have done something differently. But I thought we did extremely well.”
  • TFC were dealt another injury blow during the international break when midfielder Torsten Frings was lost for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on his hip.
  • It’s been tough. We’ve had some key injuries that have definitely hurt us, but we’re professionals and we have to fill in the void when players are out,” said Andrew Wiedeman.
  • While Toronto FC will be missing a large contingent of players to international duty, center back Darren O’Dea will return for the Chicago match after taking part in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan. O’Dea has been excused from the Republic’s friendly in Oman on Wednesday.
  • “There is a game conflicting with the Chicago game at home but it’s only a friendly, so I spoke to them and they have no problem with me getting back so I’ll not miss that game which I thought I might,” O’Dea said. “I’ll play in Kazakhstan and get back to London and then fly straight here. I want to be playing here and helping the team.
  • If Toronto FC fail to take maximum points from any of their remaining matches, or if Columbus ties or wins this weekend, or even if D.C. United wins, TFC will be eliminated from playoff contention.
CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire won for the fourth consecutive match on their home ground last time out, defeating the Houston Dynamo 3-1 on Sept. 2 at Toyota Park. The Fire are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 44 points from 26 games.
 
LAST MATCH
  • The Fire took the lead before the first minute was out. Patrick Nyarko intercepted Andre Hainault’s pass across the middle in his own half, then raced 40 yards in alone on goal before poking his shot past ‘keeper Tally Hall.
  • The Fire capitalized on another midfield takeaway in the 19th minute. Alvaro Fernandez took possession and found Sherjill MacDonald at the edge of the box. His attempted shot deflected off a defender and right into the path of Daniel Paladini, who slotted his shot home from inside the area.
  • The Dynamo pulled a goal back in the 90th minute. Brad Davis found Brian Ching on a corner kick, and the veteran sent a header that deflected off a Fire defender and through the reach of goalkeeper Will Johnson.
  • But the home side put the game out of reach in stoppage time when Fire playmaker Alex hammered a blast from distance that ricocheted in off the inside of the right post.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that went down to a 4-2 loss to D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Alvaro Fernandez came back into the midfield in place of the departed Marco Pappa.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Daniel Paladini, Pavel Pardo - Patrick Nyarko (Dominic Oduro 77), Chris Rolfe (Logan Pause 85), Alvaro Fernandez - Sherjill MacDonald (Alex 55)
TEAM NEWS
  • The Fire won for a fourth consecutive match at Toyota Park, and are 9-2-2 at home this season. After the trip to Toronto, they return home for matches against Montréal and Columbus.
  • “We talked about putting ourselves in a position to control our own destiny. We [have] four games at home and I think that we put ourselves in a position where we’re in the game and you have to be able to win the game and be in the fight,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “Last year it was a different situation, we were playing catch-up. Right now we’re in a good spot; we’re in a good spot because we don’t have to rely on other teams. We have to worry about ourselves.”
  • Nyarko’s goal, coming after 47 seconds, was the third-fastest goal scored in Fire club history. It was the sixth goal scored in the opening minute in MLS this season, but the second for the Fire: Dominic Oduro scored after 25 seconds in the first meeting with Toronto FC.
  • “The fast start was good but more than anything, we talked about at halftime was that it doesn’t matter if we score another goal, it’s not to give up a goal,” said Klopas. “That was the key for me and I think we need to keep working, especially on finish games off and keeping clean sheets.”
  • Coming off the substitutes’ bench for his 10th league appearance, Alex opened his goalscoring account for the Fire with the capping goal.
  • Following the completion of the transfer of Marco Pappa to SC Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie, Alvaro Fernández returned to the team for his fourth start in five matches following his trade from Seattle.
  • “One of the things, bringing Fernández in, we knew that in the end, Marco was going to be gone. We had a rotation between Fernandez, Patrick [Nyarko] and Marco. You hope every game is going to be like this but Marco is a quality player,” said Klopas. “It was a situation that we just couldn’t pass up at the moment as far as making a move and giving ourselves an opportunity to have the funds to improve the team, keep guys together and keep improving. But we also felt very comfortable with the group that we had because the most important thing is to make the playoffs, so if we didn’t feel confident, we wouldn’t have done it.”
  • Just three weeks after suffering fractured ribs and a pneumothorax in the victory vs. Philadelphia, midfielder and captain Logan Pause was able to return to the field, coming on for the final five minutes.
  • “After about 10 days I got an X-ray and it conformed the collapsed lung had healed, which was the big thing the wanted to make sure was healed. I’m still managing with the ribs,” said Pause. “It is what it is, that said as long as I can tolerate it each day then I can keep pushing along and put myself in a position to come back as quickly as possible.”
  • Daniel Paladini scored for the second time in as many games, having made three consecutive starts as replacement for Pause after making just one in seven total appearances in the first 23 league games.
  • “Whether it’s coming in off the bench or starting the thing is that we’re a team and when I’m called upon I’ll be ready. I have a ton of respect for Logan, he’s one of my best friends on the team, and if they want to put him back in there’s a reason for it,” said Paladini. “He’s been on the team for 10 years and there’s a reason for it. I’m just here to perform my role and if I’m call upon I’ll be ready.”
  • On Sunday, the Fire came back for a 2-2 draw with Mexico’s Santos Laguna in a friendly at Toyota Park. Benjamin Joya and Daniel Luduena put Santos ahead in the first half, but goals from Michael Videira and Corben Bone provided the final score.
  • Here’s the Fire team: Paolo Tornaghi; Tony Walls, Michael Videira, Hunter Jumper; Dan Gargan, Logan Pause (Daniel Paladini 46’), Victor Pineda; Dominic Oduro, Alex (Pavel Pardo 78’), Corben Bone; Sherjill MacDonald (Jalil Anibaba 46’)