BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire hung on to their top-five spot in the Eastern Conference on Saturday after a 63rd minute penalty kick from Mike Magee beat Toronto FC.
Throughout the night, Toronto threatened to play spoilers, but they couldn't break down the Fire defense, which registered its sixth shutout of the season to put Chicago in fourth place.
Toronto almost shocked the Fire early when Mark Bloom's sixth-minute cross found Robert Earnshaw just outside the penalty area, but his shot flew over the crossbar from close range.
A minute later, Mike Magee sent a cross to Juan Luis Anangono, but Stefan Frei made a diving save to keep Chicago off the board.
Sean Johnson was forced into action in the 30th minute when Mark Bloom took a hard shot from the end line that the Fire goalkeeper saved.
In the 34th minute, Mike Magee stole the ball from New England defender Steven Caldwell at the corner of the six-yard box, but his shot went wide left.
Toronto FC narrowly missed scoring an own goal in the 51st minute, when Fire defender Austin Berry knocked a Magee cross into Reggie Lambe before the ball hit the post.
The Fire received a penalty kick in the 63rd minute after Mike Magee's free kick struck Jonathan Osorio's arm as he manned TFC's wall inside the 18-yard-box. Magee chipped his “panenka” spot kick past Frei, who went diving the other way.
Alvaro Rey nearly equalized in the 71st minute when he collected a deflection at the top of the box and took a shot that looked bound for the lower corner. But Johnson dove across his goal keep Chicago on top.
Magee played Anangono through in the 81st minute, and the Ecuadorian hit the underside of the crossbar with his thundering volley.
Anangono then smacked the ball off the outside of the post in the 84th minute after he collected a Mike Magee shot.
Andrew Wiedeman nearly equalized just before the final whistle, but his header off a Jonathan Osorio corner kick went just wide.
The win put Chicago one point clear of New England and Houston, who are in fifth and sixth place, before Houston play New York on Sunday. Their game against the Red Bulls next Sunday will likely determine their playoff fate.
Toronto lost their fourth in five games. Next weekend presents another chance to play spoiler when they take on third-place Montreal.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Mike Magee||Wasn't perfect, but still decisive as he earned, then netted the winning PK. Further bolstered his league MVP prospects.|
|2||Patrick Nyarko||The Ghanaian winger ran Ashtone Morgan ragged all night and his service deserved better from his wasteful teammates.|
|3||Jonathan Osorio||TFC's Homegrown midfielder was hard-working and creative, holding his own against Chicago's veteran engine room.|