Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC | MLS Match Preview

CHIvTOR, 10-19-2013

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USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO FIRE vs TORONTO FC
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
Oct. 19, 2013 (WEEK 34, MLS Game #310)
7:30 p.m. CT (CSN2/RDS; My50 Chi)

The Chicago Fire will be looking to book their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs when Toronto FC visit Toyota Park on Saturday evening. The Fire come into the match in a three-way logjam for fourth place in the Eastern Conference following their 3-2 win at FC Dallas last weekend, but could clinch a postseason berth with a win and the right combination of other results. TFC have been eliminated from playoff consideration for this season, coming off a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia Union two weekends ago.

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REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Brian Dunn; 4th: Mathieu Bourdeau
Jurisevic MLS Career: 67 games; FC/gm: 22.4; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 8; pens: 9

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: TOR: Joseph Bendik (through Oct. 20), Jeremy Hall (caution accumulation; through Oct. 20)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Daniel Paladini, Bakary Soumare, Jeff Larentowicz, Mike Magee … TOR: Gale Agbossoumonde, Steven Caldwell, Matias Laba, Darel Russell, Bobby Convey
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Jalil Anibaba, Chris Rolfe, Dilly Duka, Gonzalo Segares … TOR: Richard Eckersley, Reggie Lambe, Justin Braun
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (15 meetings): Fire 7 wins, 26 goals … Toronto FC 3 wins, 21 goals … Ties 5
AT CHICAGO (6 meetings): Fire 3 wins, 9 goals … Toronto FC 0 wins, 5 goals … Ties 3
•    The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Chicago’s Dilly Duka and TFC’s Robert Earnshaw traded goals three minutes apart in the first half to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw Sept. 11 at BMO Field.
•    TFC has not defeated Chicago since a 4-1 win May 8, 2010, a span of seven games without a victory in the series.
•    Toronto FC have never won at Toyota Park. The Fire have taken points from their last four trips to BMO Field.
•    Coaches' records: Frank Klopas v TOR: P4 W4 L0 D1 … Ryan Nelsen vs. CHI: P1 W0 L0 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS)
9/11: TOR 1, CHI 1 (Earnshaw 23 – Magee 20)
•    Both goals came in a four-minute span midway through the first half. The Fire opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Dilly Duka chipped a pass from outside the area toward Mike Magee, racing toward goal. Magee could not reach the pass, but the ball bounced past TFC 'keeper Joe Bendik and into the net.
•    Toronto equalized three minutes later when Robert Earnshaw received a ball on the right of the Fire box from winger Bobby Convey, then showed great poise while waiting for a Chicago defender to commit before he blasted his shot past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
•    TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Ashtone Morgan - Alvaro Rey (Jonas Elmer 90), Jonathan Osorio, Jeremy Hall, Bobby Convey – Andrew Wiedeman (Bright Dike 75), Robert Earnshaw (Justin Braun 25).
•    CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Bakary Soumare, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Dilly Duka (Daniel Paladini 68), Jeff Larentowicz, Alex (Juan Luis Anangono 78), Patrick Nyarko (Quincy Amarikwa 56) - Mike Magee, Chris Rolfe.

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire took maximum points from their two-game road swing, defeating FC Dallas 3-2 on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium. The Fire are in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 46 points from 32 matches.

LAST MATCH
•    The Fire opened the scoring in the 24th minute as forward Juan Luis Anangono outjumped Dallas defender Zach Loyd, flicking a quick, glancing header from a corner kick past a diving Chris Seitz and into the far corner of the net.
•    Three minutes before halftime, the Fire lead was doubled through some good fortune for Mike Magee. Midfielder Alex unleashed a shot from 23 yards, and Magee, in attempting to get out of the way, actually deflected the wayward effort on goal, wrong-footing  Seitz for his 19th goal of the season.
•    The visitors again scored from a corner in the 52nd minute to stretch the lead to 3-0. The initial offering wasn't cleared out of the danger area and fell right to Fire fullback Jalil Anibaba’s feet, and he curled a well-struck ball into the upper corner from just outside the penalty area.
•    FC Dallas pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute when a hopeful David Ferreira ball into bypassed three Fire defenders and landed right at Kenny Cooper’s feet in the 6-yard box, and he controlled the ball before casually toe-poking past a helpless Sean Johnson in the Fire goal.
•    Then FCD were awarded a penalty kick after Chicago defender Gonzalo Segares took down Jackson inside the area. Cooper eventually stepped up to the spot and buried his attempt down the center of the goal with a quarter-hour to play, but the home side could get no closer.
•    Fire head coach Frank Klopas made two changes to the team that strolled to a 3-0 victory against D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Alex and Dilly Duka came into the midfield in place of Arevalo Rios and Chris Rolfe.
•    CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Bakary Soumare, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Patrick Nyarko (Daniel Paladini 80), Jeff Larentowicz, Alex, Dilly Duka (Wells Thompson 68) - Juan Luis Anangono, Mike Magee (Logan Pause 82).

TEAM NEWS
•    The Fire have won back-to-back road games for the first time this season. Following the home match vs. Toronto FC, they finish the season with a visit to the New York Red Bulls.
•    With the victory, the Fire pulled themselves into a possibility of clinching a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs with a victory and the right combination of results elsewhere in the Eastern Conference.
•    “For the last two months, we’ve been hovering right around that red line. The big issue for us was getting over that hump. Now, we’ve put ourselves into a position with two matches left in the season that we control our own destiny,” said Mike Magee.
•    Magee scored his third goal in the last three matches in the win at FC Dallas, and now has 19 goals for the season, tied atop the MLS Golden Boot standings with Montréal’s Marco Di Vaio. “His numbers are fantastic. We were having problems scoring when we got him and now we’re playing for something. It’s a really good time to be playing well,” said Klopas.
•    Midfielder Alex made his first start in four matches and recorded his first career MLS assist. He had scored three goals in league play in two seasons with the Fire, one this season (Sept. 14 vs. New England).
•    Juan Luis Anangono scored his second goal with the Fire, in the last five games, netting the opener. “Juan is great in the air. He gets up well and his timing is great. We actually have begun to start looking for him more on set pieces. He did all he needed to do, which was just glance it towards goal. It was perfect. More importantly, he had a fabulous game tonight,” said Magee.
•    Jalil Anibaba also scored his first goal of the season, and now has four career goals in MLS, having scored in each of his three professional seasons.
•    “Not a knock on Jalil, but I don’t think anyone in Chicago was expecting him to do that tonight. He is a great defender, a great kid. … If we have a guy trying to bend one in to the far upper-90 it’s normally not going to be him. But thankfully, it was him,” said Magee.
•    The Fire made changes in both wide midfield positions, with Dilly Duka coming off at the three-quarter mark with an ankle problem, then Patrick Nyarko coming off with 10 minutes to play because of dizziness.
•    “Patrick Nyarko had an issue with the hamstring and we were forced to take Dilly Duka out. Patrick would have been our first sub had Dilly not gotten hurt. We were thinking 65 minutes would be good to bring Patrick out. We didn’t want to push him any more than that. Then Dilly gets hurt and now we end up losing Patrick for a longer amount of time… at a crucial time,” said Klopas. “As the game went, it really dictated the subs that we had to make. We needed to strengthen the middle.”
•    Said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz: “[The three subs] really helped solidify things. We relied on Wells toward the end to get the ball and go forward, and try to get us up the field, because that's kind of what he's good at, that's what he does … We just needed [Pause and Paladini] to be smart, to kill off the game, and I thought they did that. Logan's composed on the ball, and Daniel had a lot of energy.”

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC lost for a third consecutive match on their travels, falling 1-0 to Philadelphia Union on Oct. 5 at PPL Park. TFC sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 26 points from 32 matches.

LAST MATCH
•    The game's lone goal came five minutes into second-half stoppage time. From a free kick some 25 yards straight out from goal, Kléberson fired a free kick that sailed past TFC goalkeeper Joseph Bendik into the upper left corner of the goal.
•    Goalkeeper Zac MacMath made four saves in backstopping his 12th clean sheet of the season.
•    TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made two changes to the team that rolled to a 4-1 win against D.C. United at BMO Field. Steven Caldwell came into the back four for Gale Agbossoumonde, and Jonathan Osorio started up top in place of Andrew Wiedeman.
•    TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Mark Bloom, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Ashtone Morgan - Alvaro Rey, Darel Russell, Jeremy Hall (Reggie Lambe 89), Bobby Convey (Andrew Wiedeman 65) - Bright Dike (Robert Earnshaw 63), Jonathan Osorio.

TEAM NEWS
•    Toronto FC weren’t able to make it back-to-back wins, coming off their first league victory since Aug. 4. They’ve won consecutive games just once this season – July 27 and Aug. 4.
•    “We are working on things. I thought if you took it as a playoff game, every game for us, we take it like a playoff game, for experience for next year,” said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen. “When you take how we played and  the organization and how we absorbed the pressure and chances that we got were obviously really key ones and we just didn’t take them.”
•    Toronto FC allowed their first goal from a set-piece situation since May 8, when San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski scored from a corner kick. TFC have conceded just four goals from deadball situations, second-fewest in MLS (Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 3).
•    It was also the third time this season Philadelphia Union have scored in stoppage time vs. TFC to snatch a late draw. TFC has conceded 15 goals from the 76th minute on, seven of those in second-half stoppage-time, including five that have hauled the Reds back into draws.
•    “It was the first time in 15-16 games we’ve conceded one. LA has conceded a lot more than we have,” said Nelsen. “We don’t even look at it as a problem. That free kick was a lovely free kick, it could have gone over the bar and you wouldn’t have asked me that question. It was a lovely free kick.  Our free kick hits the under scale of the bar hits the line and it could have easily gone in.”
•    Joseph Bendik has played every minute of every league game in goal for TFC, but he will be out for the Chicago match after being shown a red card following the final whistle. Stefan Frei featured in goal for Toronto FC for both of their matches in the Canadian Championship.
•    Bright Dike made his third consecutive start in attack, his fifth consecutive appearance since his arrival from the Portland Timbers, but he came off after just 63 minutes, his shortest outing in the first XI.
•    "I don't think you are a professional if you say that you don't want to start," Dike said. "As a professional, I want to start as many games as possible. But whatever role Ryan has in mind for me, I'm going to work my hardest to claim that role and really just give my best effort and make myself a regular as much as possible."
•    Jonathan Osorio returned to the TFC lineup following a two-match ban, as Andrew Wiedeman did not start for the first time in eight matches, since Aug. 17.
•    “I was really anxious to get back on the pitch and help my team get a result,” Osorio said. “ … [Bright Dike] is a big strong guy and a big presence up top, so it helps me a lot because he takes away central defenders and leaves that little space for me in behind. So hopefully we can keep moving forward with that and keep improving.”
•    Robert Earnshaw made his first appearance after missing three matches to a calf injury, coming on for the final 27 minutes.