Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC | MLS Match Preview

CHICAGO FIRE vs TORONTO FC
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
July 2, 2014 (WEEK 17, MLS Game #148)
7:30 p.m. CT (TSN/RDS2; My50 Chi)

The Chicago Fire finally return to league play following the World Cup recess when they play host to Toronto FC on Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are playing their first league match in nearly a month, since a 3-2 home loss to Seattle Sounders FC, though they have advanced to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Open Cup. Toronto FC extended their undefeated run to five games – the club’s longest in league play in two seasons – in a 2-2 draw at the New York Red Bulls over the weekend.

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REFEREE: Sorin Stoica. AR1 (bench): Adam Wienckowski; AR2 (opposite): Anthony Vasoli; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 23 games; FC/gm: 28.4; Y/gm: 4.4; R: 10; pens: 14

SUSPENDED: CHI: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (through July 2)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado … TOR: Jackson, Jermain Defoe, Doneil Henry
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: TOR: Michael Bradley (USA); Julio Cesar (BRA)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (16 meetings): Fire 8 wins, 27 goals … Toronto FC 3 wins, 21 goals … Ties 5
AT CHICAGO (7 meetings): Fire 4 wins, 10 goals … Toronto FC 0 wins, 5 goals … Ties 3
RETURN MATCHES: 8/23: Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire, 7 p.m. ET; 9/13: Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. CT

LAST YEAR (MLS):
9/11: TOR 1, CHI 1 (Earnshaw 23 – Duka 20)
10/19: CHI 1, TOR 0 (Magee 64)

  • TFC has not defeated Chicago since a 4-1 win May 8, 2010, a span of eight games without a victory in the series.
  • Toronto FC have never won at Toyota Park, as the Fire have won the last three meetings in Bridgeview, including a 1-0 victory last Oct. 19.
  • The Fire have taken points from their last four trips to BMO Field, with two wins and two draws, dating back to the 2011 season.
  • Coaches record: Ryan Nelsen vs. CHI: P2 W0 L1 T1 … Frank Yallop vs. TOR: P12 W5 L2 T5

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire had their winless run extended to four games in their last league match, falling 3-2 to Seattle Sounders FC on June 7 at Toyota Park. The Fire are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 14 points from 14 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Sounders FC took the lead in the 31st minute when Obafemi Martins controlled, turned and finished at the near post to convert a deflected cross from Brad Evans. Then just six minutes later Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was shown a straight red card by referee Chris Penso for a dangerous two-footed lunge on Martins inside the box, and Martins sent goalkeeper Sean Johnson the wrong way from the spot, slotting low to the right for a 2-0 lead.
  • The Fire pulled back a goal in the 41st minute through a moment of magic by Harry Shipp, who took possession and weaved his way through the Seattle defense before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed shot past Stefan Frei. Then barely a minute later Sounders FC were reduced in numbers when Martins was shown a straight red card.
  • But it was Sounders FC who added a third when substitute Kenny Cooper headed on a cross from the right wing and Lamar Neagle drove a shot past Johnson in the 78th minute.
  • Shipp set up a tantalizing finish when he drove home a thundering shot from the edge of the box with his right foot for his second goal of the night after being teed up by Quincy Amarikwa with eight minutes remaining, but the Fire could get no closer.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made three changes to the team that reached a scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Lovel Palmer and Gonzalo Segares came in at fullback in place of Steven Kinney and Greg Cochrane, and Harry Shipp came into the side in favor of Matt Watson.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (ejected 37), Gonzalo Segares - Grant Ward (Victor Pineda 76), Chris Ritter (Juan Luis Anangono 63), Jeff Larentowicz, Benji Joya (Alex 70) - Harry Shipp, Quincy Amarikwa.

TEAM NEWS

  • Harry Shipp scored multiple goals in a game for the second time in his rookie season, also netting a hat trick in a 5-4 win vs. New York on May 10 for his first professional goals.
  • Quincy Amarikwa recorded multiple assists in a game for the first time in his MLS career. His three assists this season are already a single-season career-high; it’s the first time since his initial MLS season of 2008 when he’s had more than one assist in a season.
  • “I think Harry and I are building good chemistry up top. It’s translating on the field and it’s turning into goals.  We just need to figure it out as a team now, making sure we can prevent teams from scoring multiple goals on us so we can come away with three points,” said Amarikwa.
  • Said Fire head coach Frank Yallop: “We need to start winning, obviously, to have any chance to do well this year. But I think the emergence of the young players is my focus, and I think they're doing OK. We're not wishing the season away at all; I make sure that we're ready to play each game and ready to go,” Yallop said. “ ... But the naïveté of our team, and it's not a slight on them, it's just reality, we can't figure it out quite yet. It's frustrating as a coach, and the players are frustrated. I think that for us, it's making sure that we build on it, and make sure we get positive with it.”
  • Since their last league match, the Fire have reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, following a 4-2 extra-time win vs. the Columbus Crew on June 25 at Toyota Park in a fifth-round match. Juan Luis Anangono scored a pair of goals, including one in extra time, to lead the Fire; Patrick Ianni and Quincy Amarikwa also netted for the Fire.
  • Here’s the Chicago team: Sean Johnson; Matt Watson, Patrick Ianni, Bakary Soumare (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 59í), Greg Cochrane; Grant Ward, Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause (Alex 72nd), Harry Shipp; Mike Magee (Juan Luis Anangono 77th), Quincy Amarikwa
  • In the fourth round, the Fire claimed a 2-1 win against USL PRO Pittsburgh Riverhounds in a match abandoned after 49 minutes because of weather. Grant Ward (22) and Mike Magee (40) scored for the Fire.
  • Here’s the Fire team: Sean Johnson; Matt Watson, Patrick Ianni, Bakary Soumare, Greg Cochrane; Grant Ward, Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause, Harry Shipp; Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa
  • The Open Cup match vs. Pittsburgh was Magee’s initial first-team performance since May 18, missing four games with a calf injury. The goal was his first since netting twice in that match vs. Sporting KC.
  • “Mike’s … looked good and sharp,” Yallop said. “And he feels he wants to get some minutes under him and really get going, and I thought he was sharp, played well. He scored the goal, had the chance in the second half. He’ll be back to his best I’m sure pretty soon.”
  • Juan Luis Anangono’s two goals in the match vs. Columbus in the Open Cup matched his MLS season total, having appeared in all 14 league contests.
  • “What I will say about Juan is he is a terrific professional, he’s been right with the team all along even though he’s not getting many minutes lately because of [Quincy Amarikwa's] play, if you like,” Yallop said. “But what I like about the way he goes about it he tries very hard for the team and I’m very happy for him to get the two goals.”

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC extended their current league undefeated run to five matches, despite being hauled back into a late 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Friday evening at Red Bull Arena. TFC sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, with 20 points from 12 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls opened the scoring in the 36th minute. Fullback Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo juked a defender on the left flank and floated in a cross to the back post where it was by a header from Peguy Luyindula to finish from six yards out past a diving Joe Bendik.
  • But TFC pulled ahead in the second half. In the 55th minute, Dominic Oduro drove a cross low to the near post where Jermain Defoe scored the equalizer with a beautiful one-touch finish past Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.
  • Then in the 72nd minute, from a free kick some 20 yards out from goal, Gilberto lashed home a drive over the wall for his first MLS goal – though he did need to win an argument with Defoe over who would take it.
  • Yet the Red Bulls found some late magic. A long ball into the TFC penalty area was headed on by Tim Cahill, where Bradley Wright-Phillips was able to knock it home from point-blank range for the stoppage-time equalizer.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made two changes to the team that claimed a 1-0 win vs. the San Jose Earthquakes at BMO Field. Justin Morrow came into the back four for Nick Hagglund, and Dominic Oduro started in the midfield in place of Kyle Bekker.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Mark Bloom, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Justin Morrow - Dominic Oduro (Gilberto 65 / Dwayne De Rosario 90), Jonathan Osorio, Collen Warner, Jackson - Luke Moore (Bradley Orr 81), Jermain Defoe.

TEAM NEWS

  • Despite being hauled back into the draw in New York, Toronto FC are now undefeated in their last five league games, their longest unbeaten run since midway through the 2012 season. The club’s MLS record is eight games without loss, set in 2010.
  • “It’s one of those games where you look beyond the result and look at the performance,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. “I thought the performance was extremely pleasing. We dominated large facets of the game, and the movement off the ball, and the possession was extremely pleasing at times. We had a lot of opportunities and we controlled the game very well.”
  • Jermain Defoe scored for a third consecutive game, his fourth goal in that time. He has five goals in the last five games, since May 17.
  • “A point on the road is good against a good team. But I think the way that the game went; we thought we won the game. It was just unlucky, to be honest, they got a late goal,” said Defoe. “Obviously we’re disappointed because we thought we got the three points.”
  • Gilberto scored his first competitive goal since coming to Toronto FC, hammering home a direct free kick – after he and Defoe had a brief disagreement over who should take the kick.
  • “[Gilberto’s] English is not the best so he probably couldn’t say ‘Jermain, I’ve got a funny feeling [that] I’m going to rocket this into the top of the net.’ That happens,” said Nelsen. “For Gilberto that was a little glimpse on kind of what we saw and what his potential is. It’ll be shown all around the world for a long time because it was a fantastic taken free kick.”
  • But Gilberto, who had come on as a substitute, was forced off late in the match after suffering a hip injury.
  • “Gilberto had a sore hip flexor coming into the game and he thought he was fine but he probably strained it when he smacked it into the top of the net,” Nelsen said. “There was a bit of power behind the ball. We have to see once it settles down the next couple of days, if he’s good to go and the extent of it.”
  • Dominic Oduro made his first start for Toronto FC since his arrival from Columbus, starting a wide right midfield role.
  • “He showed glimpses of how dangerous Dominic is. He hasn’t had the match minutes so, obviously, his fitness levels aren’t where all of us would like but I thought he was really good,” Nelsen said. “It was his first time in a system that he, kind of, we’re trying to teach him. It’s why we brought him in and I think it was pretty plain to see that once he gets to fitness he’ll be even more dangerous.”