After a promising start that saw striker Ryan Johnson convert a Chicago Fire giveaway into a 1-0 Toronto FC lead, it all suddenly went wrong for the Reds on Saturday at Toyota Park.
In the 64th minute, TFC committed their own turnover to allow the equalizer. Just 15 minutes later, defender Logan Emory earned his second yellow card, dropping Toronto to 10 men. Three minutes after that, 10 became nine when an ankle injury took Jeremy Hall out of the action after all three subs had already been made.
The Fire were awarded a freekick on the play that Hall was injured on, which defender Austin Berry promptly turned into TFC’s ninth set-piece concession this season, and a bright start into a 2-1 loss.
HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 2, TOR 1
“You can’t really legislate for Logan deciding to get himself sent off,” Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner told reporters. “The play was going nowhere – just ridiculous. You can’t legislate for Jeremy getting hurt. What was striking to me was that my player hobbles off with an ankle injury and they get the free kick. It’s rather puzzling.”
The Reds, who had come to Chicago bolstered by a midweek win in the CONCACAF Champions League, left discouraged and looking to right things on Aug. 11 against the Columbus Crew.
“There were a couple of turning points, and you try to look at it as balanced as you possibly can,” Mariner said. “I think it is plain to see that we gifted them two goals. You can’t do that to a very decent Chicago Fire team.”
Toronto nearly took a 2-0 lead into the intermission, but Luis Silva’s attempt from 12 yards out was turned aside brilliantly by goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Still, Mariner felt good about where his side stood at the half.
“It was a catalogue of factors,” Mariner said. “I thought we were looking pretty comfortable to be honest. We kept the ball in front of us. I thought that Frank [Klopas, Fire head coach] would make a couple changes, and he did.
“It didn’t really turn the game. You’ve got to hold your hand up and say that you can’t give decent teams opportunities like we gave them. Other than that, we’re fine. I genuinely thought we were going to win the game tonight. I was very confident at halftime.”