Second-half substitute Orr Barouch scored his first MLS goal with less than 15 minutes remaining to help the visiting Chicago Fire come back from two goals down and clinch a 2-2 tie against Toronto FC on a rainy Saturday night at BMO Field.
TFC took an early lead through teen sensation Joao Plata on a spectacular individual effort in the ninth minute. The Canadian side doubled its advantage two minutes after the break as Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway allowed a Maicon Santos shot to slip through for a 2-0 lead.
Barouch, a former Chivas USA youth product who recently played with Tigres UANL in Mexico, came on as a sub in the 58th minute and shortly afterward earned a free kick which his teammate Marco Pappa converted with a majestic strike to reduce the deficit. The 19-year-old Barouch then got his goal in the 76th minute, connecting on a Corben Bone cross at the far left post to equalize for the final 2-2 result.
Toronto were off to an ideal start after Plata netted his second goal in three league matches. The 19-year-old collected the ball on the left flank and converged toward the top of the box, curling a low, right-footed shot inside the far post for a 1-0 advantage.
If it weren’t for Fire central defender Cory Gibbs, who was returning to the starting lineup after an injury layoff, Plata could have scored another. But Gibbs came through with blocks in the 25th and 36th minutes to deny the 5-foot-2 Ecuadorean.
A fine save by TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei denied Chicago an equalizer a minute before halftime as he extended himself to keep out a Gastón Puerari effort.
The Fire would rue the save after going down 2-0 shortly after the break when Santos, who was quiet for most of the night, fired a speculative shot from 30 yards out which went right through the legs of former TFC ‘keeper Conway.
With a mountain to climb, Fire manager Carlos de los Cobos inserted Barouch for Puerari and it was the 19-year-old striker who earned a free kick at the top of the box when he was sandwiched by two TFC defenders in the 63rd minute. Pappa obliged and netted his fourth goal of the season, curling a magnificent left-footed free kick that found the top right corner.
The Fire continued to string together passing sequences that proved threatening. After a fine move down the right side of the box, Bone sent in a ball which crossed the face of the goal in the 76th minute before an unmarked Barouch connected with his knee on a sliding effort. Bone registered his first career assist on the play.
Chicago could have taken all three points after deep-lying midfielder Daniel Paladini made a run into the box in the 83rd minute for one-on-one opportunity. He attempted to chip the goalkeeper but Frei reached up off the ground to swat the ball away.
The Fire, who have registered four consecutive ties in league play, hit the road again on May 21 for a match against the Philadelphia Union while Toronto travel to face MLS Cup champions Colorado on May 22. Before then, TFC will also have to contend with the first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final in Vancouver on May 18.
TOR -- Joao Plata 2 (Nick Soolsma 2) 9
TOR -- Maicon Santos 3 (Joao Plata 2) 47
CHI -- Marco Pappa 4 (unassisted) 63
CHI -- Orr Barouch 1 (Corben Bone 1) 76
CHI -- Gonzalo Segares (caution; Reckless Foul) 19
TOR -- Julian de Guzman (caution; Reckless Tackle) 25
CHI -- Dan Paladini (caution; Dissent) 28
Chicago Fire-- Jon Conway, Gonzalo Segares, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Jalil Anibaba, Corben Bone, Gaston Puerari (Orr Barouch 58), Marco Pappa, Dan Paladini, Diego Chaves (Baggio Husidic 89), Dominic Oduro (Bratislav Ristic 89).
Substitutes Not Used: Josip Mikulic, Dasan Robinson, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Alec Dufty.
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Richard Eckersley, Dicoy Williams, Adrian Cann, Dan Gargan, Tony Tchani, Julian de Guzman, Jacob Peterson, Nick Soolsma (Matt Gold 87), Maicon Santos (Javier Martina 84), Joao Plata (Alen Stevanovic 61).
Substitutes Not Used: Oscar Cordon, Ty Harden, Nathan Sturgis, Milos Kocic.
Referee: Elias Bazakos
Referee's Assistants: Hector Vergara, Corey Parker
4th Official: Edvin Jurisevic
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Showers and 61 degrees