The Chicago Fire snatched a surprise point on Saturday night, erasing a two-goal deficit with a pair of second-half strikes to tie Toronto FC 2-2 at BMO Field.
The match was a tale of two halves for the Fire, who played a nice second frame after a sloppy first 45. They had improved possession and a solid amount of chances after the break, eventually scoring in the 64th and 74th minutes.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Toronto FC 2, Chicago Fire 2
This week’s “On Fire” takes a closer look at Saturday’s match, focusing on three key observations.
1) Bone and Paladini improve
The main reason for the Fire’s second-half turnaround was the play of center midfielders Corben Bone and Daniel Paladini. Both players looked sharp in the second 45, with Bone facilitating well and creating opportunities and Paladini defending nicely and distributing skillfully.
Bone was particularly strong. The second-year player jumpstarted the Fire attack, passing dangerously before assisting on Orr Barouch’s 74th-minute equalizer.
“I’m just feeling more and more comfortable and confident in myself,” Bone told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I believe in what I can do and think I can play even better the next time, hopefully. I’ve always had the skills I think, I just needed to get a little more comfortable and get the confidence to do it and I think I’m seeing that now.”
2) Barouch bursts onto the scene
Bone and Paladini weren’t the only players that energized the Fire in the second half. Rookie forward Orr Barouch pictured above), who came on in the 58th minute for Gastón Puerari, also sparked Chicago, drawing the foul that led to Marco Pappa’s free kick goal in the 64th and scoring his first career goal 10 minutes later.
“I just tried to come in and give energy,” Barouch said. “The team looked a little bit down but when we play hard and move the ball well is when we are at our best. When I came in I just tried to motivate the team and keep us moving the ball, those were my instructions and that is what the team started doing.”
3) Conway’s howler
The Fire might have left Canada with all three points had goalkeeper Jon Conway not let in an easy goal in the 47th minute.
The former TFC netminder couldn’t handle Maicon Santos’ 30-yard shot, letting the low strike go through his legs without even getting a hand on it. The gaffe could conceivably cost Conway — who didn’t make the starting lineup until April 17 — his starting role.
“He caught it well,” Conway said. “It was moving and I tried to do a good job of getting my body behind it. The ball dropped and it got through me and, the way these balls move nowadays, it is going to happen. I did my best to get behind it the ball dropped and it went in.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.