TORONTO – An evenly contested match at BMO Field ended 2-2 as Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire split the points in what is already a tightly contested Eastern Conference.
Goals scored by Gilberto and Quincy Amarikwa, shared in the last 15 minutes of the match, would keep the two teams level in a cool, carnival night in Toronto.
The home team didn’t have to wait too long to extinguish the opposition’s flames. In just the fourth minute of play, Justin Morrow burst down the left wing while Gilberto rushed in to wait in the box. Morrow’s cross went off, but smacked the head of Bacary Soumare and towards goal. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson and Gilberto looked on as the own goal settled in the back of the net, giving the home side am early 1-0 lead.
For the rest of the half, Toronto FC sat content, slowly building out of the back, with Michael Bradley in particular controlling the flow and tempo of Toronto’s midfield and defensive lines. Dominic Oduro proved to be a consistent threat on the wing but Chicago’s back line held strong, containing both Jermain Defoe and Gilberto for long stretches.
The Fire’s best chance of the half came when Quincy Amarikwa broke free and took on Doneil Henry one on one towards goal. Henry, who himself had just come on for Steven Caldwell, shepherded Amarikwa away from goal with confidence. Caldwell looked like he had aggravated a previous injury that saw him out for the better part of the last two months.
The second half kicked off just as heated as the first, but Morrow was a casualty of that fast and frantic play, picking up an injury that forced Ryan Nelsen to put Jackson on in the 58th minute.
In the 65th minute, a familiar face came onto the field in Toronto, with Sanna Nyassi making way for Robert Earnshaw. Four minutes into his Fire debut - and against his former side - Earnshaw headed home Ward's cross past Joe Bendik to give the Chicago the equalizer.
Defoe made way for Luke Moore in a striker swap made in the hopes of finding a winning goal. And it was exactly this combination that paid off for Toronto as the two strikers combined one more time, Moore springing Gilberto clear on goal from midfieldr with a curling through ball. Gilberto rounded Johnson with a cheeky touch and slotted home coolly, giving Toronto FC a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes to go.
But as the clock ticked on, Chicago continued to press, and with just 30 seconds to go in the match, another former TFC striker found the back of the net, Amarikwa striking a sweet volley to give his side another equalizer.
Toronto FC next host the New England Revolution on Saturday while the Chicago Fire take on FC Dallas at Toyota Park on September 30.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Gilberto||Solid game throughout the field, coming back to help in middle and then threaten up.|
|2||Jonathan Osorio||Great field awareness, kept the ball moving and constantly found the open man.|
|3||Quincy Amarikwa||Even with eyes on him as the sole threat, was able to get the game-tying goal|