New signing Robert Earnshaw made an immediate impact on his Chicago Fire debut, equalizing within five minutes of his introduction and playing a pivotal role in a second leveler to earn Frank Yallop’s side a “hard fought” road point at Toronto.
The Welsh striker, who only arrived in Chicago on Wednesday, headed home in the 70th minute before making a nuisance of himself in the box as strike partner Quincy Amarikwa restored parity for a second time with a dramatic close-range volley in the 90th minute to ensure a 14th tie of the season for the Men in Red.
“As TFC fans know, he knows where the net is,” head coach Yallop told reporters of Earnshaw at BMO Field after the game. “He’s not played for a couple of months now and said he’s probably got 15 or 20 minutes, and I said how does 30 grab you?
"He’s dangerous, and he creates the second with his forcefulness in the box and he’s going to help us. We struggle to be dangerous at times, but I felt we were very dynamic once Earnie come on and it was good to see.”
Earnshaw, a scorer of eight goals in 26 games for Toronto last season, couldn’t have made a more immediate impact as he stooped to head home an all-British goal that involved Grant Ward and, before him, Matt Watson.
“Hard fought,” was how Yallop initially described the game. “Coming back in any game is always good, at least we got something out of it rather than let it slip, so I’m really happy with the fight back and the spirit of the guys, but quality-wise we’re not quite there yet. To come to Toronto with the quality side they have and come away with a point is good.”
Amarikwa, who now joins Mike Magee on seven goals atop the Fire’s scoring charts, praised the impact made by Earnshaw and admitted he looks forward to building a partnership with the 33-year-old veteran.
“That’s what we expected out of him, just to come off the bench, bring some energy into the game and hopefully put one away and he did all of that,” Amarikwa said. “Hopefully that translates into more goals in the future and we can build a little partnership up there.”
Earnshaw, as expected, was gracious in his post-match comments, respectful of his former employers but delighted to hit the ground running with his new team.
“Maybe it’s just because it’s a familiar ground, a place that I’m very fond of, it’s a great place and obviously I’ve scored tonight, but I’d like to thank Toronto because I never got a chance to thank everybody here,” Earnshaw said. “The team here, Ryan Nelson, the whole organization, I just never got the chance to say thank you very much for having me, so that goal is kind of a ‘Welcome to Chicago, but it’s also very much a thank you to Toronto.”