Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
Sept. 11, 2013 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #261)
7:30 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS2; My50 Chi)

Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire kick off Week 29 of the Major League Soccer in a vital match for both clubs’ postseason hopes when they face off Wednesday night at BMO Field. Toronto FC enter the week knowing they must win out if they are to have any chance of a first-ever playoff berth, returning home off a 4-0 loss at Portland last weekend. The Fire find themselves two points out of fifth place in the Eastern Conference and the final playoff position following their 2-1 defeat at Seattle Sounders FC last Saturday evening.


REFEREE: Geoff Gamble. AR1 (bench): Brian Poeschel; AR2 (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Robert Sibiga
MLS Career: 22 games; FC/gm: 23.6; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 4; pens: 10

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Gale Agbossoumonde, Doneil Henry, Matias Laba … CHI: Daniel Paladini, Bakary Soumare
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Richard Eckersley, Darren O’Dea, Darel Russell, Reggie Lambe, Justin Braun, Steven Caldwell … CHI: Jeff Larentowicz, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares, Chris Rolfe, Dilly Duka
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CHI: Joel Lindpere (Estonia), Arevalo Rios (Uruguay)

ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 20 goals … Fire 7 wins, 25 goals … Ties 4
AT TORONTO (8 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 15 goals … Fire 4 wins, 16 goals … Ties 1
RETURN MATCH: 10/19: Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC, 8:30 p.m. (TSN2, RDS2)

4/21: TOR 2, CHI 3 (Lambe 36, 40 – Oduro 1; Segares 41; Nyarko 58)
8/4: CHI 2, TOR 1 (Pappa 64; Berry 84 – Johnson 16)
9/12: TOR 1, CHI 2 (Hassli 79 – Fernandez 13; Rolfe 42)

  • The Fire have won the last four meetings between the teams, including all three encounters a season ago. TFC has not defeated Chicago since a 4-1 win May 8, 2010, a span of six games without a victory in the series.
  • The Fire have taken points from their last three trips to BMO Field. Toronto FC have never won at Toyota Park.
  • Coaches record: Ryan Nelsen vs. CHI: first game … Frank Klopas v TOR: P4 W4 L0 D0

Toronto FC saw their current winless streak stretched to five matches, falling 4-0 to the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. TFC sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 22 points from 27 matches.


  • The Timbers took the lead in the first minute of stoppage time. From a poor clearance from a free kick swung into the area, Kalif Alhassan chested down the ball and volleyed a thunderous shot past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik from just outside the box.
  • Portland then put the match away with three late goals. In the 83rd minute, substitute Diego Valeri threaded a pass to Rodney Wallace, who finished coolly past Bendik from the left side of the box.
  • Will Johnson then made it 3-0 in the 87th minute when he took a nice feed from forward José Valencia inside the area and sent a missile past Bendik.
  • Valencia set up the final Timbers goal in the third minute of stoppage time, setting up Valeri perfectly with a rolling cross that left the easiest of finishes with a tap-in at the back post.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made four changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution at BMO Field, Gale Agbossoumonde, Jonas Elmer, Alvaro Rey and Darel Russell all came into the side, with Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan and Jonathan Osorio on international duty and Bobby Convey out of the team.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-1-1): Joseph Bendik - Richard Eckersley, Steven Caldwell, Gale Agbossoumonde, Jonas Elmer - Alvaro Rey (Justin Braun 74), Darel Russell, Jeremy Hall, Reggie Lambe - Robert Earnshaw - Andrew Wiedeman.


  • The loss was the heaviest of the season in league play for Toronto FC. They had conceded three goals in back-to-back losses to Montréal and Kansas City on July 3-13; they did lose a Canadian Championship game 6-0 to Montréal.
  • “We're down to our bare bones, but it's no excuse because the guys, I thought they did really well. Up until that second goal, everything was going to plan,” said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen. “It's just, really our own mistakes that were causing the kind of problems that we were giving away in our half. The set piece was a shame. And that's the frustrating thing about it because I thought they did well.”
  • With center back Doneil Henry away on national team duty with Canada, Gale Agbossoumonde returned to the starting lineup for the first time since July 17.
  • “I thought Gale was tremendous,” Nelsen said. “He was so impressive in the air and did everything well. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of professional football and the young man has to learn from it. Especially with center backs, you don’t want to make the headlines.”
  • Jonas Elmer made his TFC and MLS debut, starting at left back with Ashtone Morgan also away with the Canadian national team.
  • “We were 1-0 down and we had got into a really nice position where we were in the game and you could tell that they had run out of ideas, the crowd had gone silent and it was getting a bit anxious for them,” Nelsen said. “And the second goal was obviously devastating for our team. After going down 2-0, the crowd obviously got back into it and they got their confidence back and we got caught trying to get something out of the game.”
  • Alvaro Rey made his second start in the last four matches, coming in on a wide midfield role in place of Bobby Convey, who had started 14 consecutive matches.
  • On Monday, TFC acquired striker Bright Dike from Portland in exchange for midfielder Maximiliano Urruti. Urruti had made two substitute appearances since joining TFC at midseason. “We received an offer from Portland that we could simply not pass on. We feel good about the return we’re getting and it made sense for both clubs,” said Nelsen.

The Chicago Fire lost for a second consecutive road match, Seattle Sounders FC getting a late winner for a 2-1 victory on Saturday evening at CenturyLink Field. The Fire are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 35 points from 26 matches.


  • The visitors took the in the 25th minute. Taking a pass from Dilly Duka, Mike Magee slotted home past Michael Gspurning, the first goal allowed by Seattle at CenturyLink Field since July 28.
  • Sounders FC then had a golden opportunity to tie the score just a few minutes later when Bakary Soumare was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area off a Mauro Rosales corner kick. But Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made the correct choice on Osvaldo Alonso's penalty attempt, diving to his right to make the save.
  • Sounders FC then leveled terms in the 40th minute. Mauro Rosales floated in a cross that Johnson came off his line to clear. But he couldn't get it past Marc Burch, who then was able to find an open Lamar Neagle in front of the goal to slam home.
  • The winning goal then came in the 89th minute, Zach Scott came streaking in on the left side and sent in a centering ball that hit off Fire defender Gonzalo Segares and found the back of the net.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that took a late 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park. Logan Pause came into the side with Arevalo Rios away on international duty.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Bakary Soumare, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Alex, Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause, Dilly Duka (Patrick Nyarko 67) - Chris Rolfe (Daniel Paladini 84), Mike Magee (Juan Luis Anangono 46).


  • The Fire lost their second consecutive game away from Toyota Park and have one victory in their last four matches.
  • “I think [we can] learn from some little things that we could do better and just regroup fast because we have to move on to the next game in Toronto. There's a lot of games coming up and we just have to move on,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “ … [T]he team put a lot into the game. We had some very good moments, created chances, and it's a little disappointing right now not to walk away with points, but that's how it is.”
  • Mike Magee scored his first goal in five matches, since Aug. 3. It was his 15th goal of the season, still second in the MLS Golden Boot standings (behind Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio, with 17).
  • “The whole combo, the play was fantastic. Dilly [Duka] coming inside, playing the through ball,” Klopas said. “We had some very good moments where we were able to combine and play. I think when we started the game and we played to feet and we had good movement off the ball, we were very dangerous. And we scored a great goal.”
  • Dilly Duka contributed his second assist of the season, his first since July 3. All of his three goals and two assists have come since June 22.
  • But Magee came off at halftime, replaced by Juan Luis Anangono, who made a third consecutive appearance off the substitutes’ bench following two starts.
  • “He had a groin situation, you know. With the amount of games coming up, and being on turf this game and stuff [...] He tweaked it a little -- it could have been worse,” Klopas said. “He came out, hopefully we got it in time and hopefully he'll be ready for Wednesday.”
  • With Arevalo Rios away with the Uruguay national team, Logan Pause returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 10.
  • “As the game wore on, one point was, we felt like, was the bare minimum,” Pause said. “ … I think we do believe that we're right in there, but we also know the reality, that the window to gain ground is getting smaller and we need to take advantage of the games that we play, especially the conference games that are coming up. We feel absolutely like we're right there within striking distance, we just need to make sure that we take advantage of our opportunities.”

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