Looking to bounce back from what at least one player called their worst game of the young season, the Chicago Fire head to BMO Field on Saturday to face struggling Toronto FC.
The last time out, the Fire squandered a Baggio Husidic goal and coughed up a late lead in a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA at Toyota Park on May 1. The Fire mustered only four shots in the entire match against Chivas and looked lackluster in the attack, leaving midfielder Patrick Nyarko to comment this week that it was the club’s worst effort of the year.
Key to any success the Fire will have this weekend is the team’s concentration. The Fire’s focus seemed to be lacking at times in the draw against Chivas USA, and they must be mentally sharp at Toronto in front of a likely boisterous crowd.
“We have to concentrate more going up there,” Nyarko said. “They have a great stadium; great fans and they’re on top of you all game. If you lose concentration they’re going to punish you and we need to match that intensity and try and go the extra step and try and match them. I think we can do it if we bring the right attitude.”
The Chicago back four has been staunch lately – only allowing one goal in the last three games – but they will be tested against attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario. The Canadian international is second in MLS with six goals on the season and should be well rested after TFC Head Coach Preki controversially rested him – and defensive midfielder Julian DeGuzman – for the first half of last Saturday’s game against Real Salt Lake.
Much of the Fire’s offensive problems in last weekend’s tie against Chivas USA also devolved from the 5-man midfield’s failure to get into the box when Chicago had the ball in a crossing position. Assuming Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos uses a 4-5-1 again this weekend, the midfield must do a better job of getting themselves into the area to support the lone striker and receive crosses. If they don’t, it could be another long 90 minutes for the Chicago attack.