New-look Toronto FC are hoping to give the Chicago Fire a little surprise when they visit Toyota Park on Sunday (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
The Reds will have midfielders Torsten Frings and Eric Avila back for the match, and not only will the pair add their talent and fresh legs after missing Thursday’s 2-1 win over Tauro FC at Panama City in the CONCACAF Champions League, they will add to the mystery factor that new-look TFC have about them these days — a new look has led to a six-game unbeaten run and the best soccer the Reds have displayed all year.
In short, the Fire will be looking at a considerably different and improved side from the one they faced at BMO Field on May 14 when they earned a comeback 2-2 tie.
Toronto can reflect on that draw with the Fire and see two wasted points that could have helped keep them alive in the race for a playoff spot. TFC scored early in each half against the Fire but could not hold the lead late in the game, and then nearly lost it all together.
“We have given away the game against Chicago because we were winning 2-0, and in the end we tied,” Toronto head coach and technical director Aron Winter said. “And we were also lucky because we could have lost the game.”
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, defender Richard Eckersley and forwards Joao Plata and Nick Soolsma are the only players who started that match that are still with TFC.
Dan Gargan started for Toronto against Chicago in that game, but now plays for the Fire. He was traded for defender Dasan Robinson on July 28.
“The coaches have made a lot of changes to the team, so we’re basically a brand new team,” said defender Danleigh Borman. “So [the game with] Chicago won’t be the same game as last time.”
Frings and Avila, two of the new faces, will be expected to play a crucial role if Toronto are going to get just their fifth win of the season. Frings serves as the team captain and anchor of the midfield, while Avila has provided an attacking spark in his three weeks with the side.
Frings missed Toronto’s first game in Group C of the CONCACAF Champions League because of suspension after picking up two yellow cards in the preliminary round. Avila cannot play for TFC in the competition because he was on the FC Dallas roster in the preliminary round.