With their tenth win of the season the Fire have now surpassed their win totals for each of the last two seasons. Combined with a Columbus loss at DC, the Fire now hold a seven point advantage over the Crew for the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Toronto FC sits at the bottom of the table but they are an improved side over what they were earlier in the season under Aron Winter's direction.
Several good signs were evident in this match. For the second consecutive game the offense created chances and looked cohesive despite playing with two important new pieces to the puzzle in Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald. This was the first two goal output since a victory over Columbus at home on June 23, and that last two matches have provided good reason for optimism. They also continue to display resiliency with their fifth come from behind victory of the season. That ability to overcome deficits is crucial for teams that are playoff contenders.
With twelve games remaining, all against the Eastern Conference the final stretch of the 2012 season will certainly be interesting.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - He didn't have to pull out the multiple acrobatics in this one but his huge save on Silva in first half stoppage time kept Toronto from taking a two goal lead. Johnson is at the top of his game right now but this one wasn't spectacular....just solid.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - He was hit or miss on several crosses but played well at right back. Klopas has two good choices at this position in Anibaba and Dan Gargan.
D Austin Berry (7) - Dangerous on set pieces throughout the match and scored the game winner in the 84th minute with a well struck header. The rookie's third goal of the year should earn him some attention for Rookie of the Year honors. He's also a force on the defensive side of the field.
D Arne Friedrich (6) - Eric Hassli wasn't much of a factor and Toronto rarely had good looks in the box other than Silva's shot late in the first half. The Friedrich/Berry pairing is a good one, particularly aerially.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Stayed home for most of the match but a great run in the 33rd minute resulted in a well struck shot that forced Kocic into a save and a good scoring opportunity for the home team.
M Pavel Pardo (6) - Toronto played a deep back line in an attempt to limit the Fire's pace but it allowed the Fire midfield tons of space in possession and plenty of room to move forward. Pardo's excellent free kick found Berry in the 84th for the winner.
M Logan Pause (6) - The Fire midfield won the possession battle by a wide margin (66% to 34% ) and Pause looked like he may have earned a PK call or at least a foul at the top of the box in the 73rd minute but no foul was given.
M Marco Pappa (6) - The horrendous give away in the 17th minute could have been disastrous but the team overcame the error and Pappa played a big part in the comeback effort. Scored the tying goal in the 64th after an errant clearance by Toronto's back line. Had another excellent chance in the 72nd minute but his left footed shot was just wide of Kocic's goal. Some up and downs on the passing side but overall he was active and productive.
M Alvaro Fernandez (6) - Impressive debut for the Uruguayan midfielder playing very well in combination with Rolfe, Pappa, and Oduro. Had a good look in the 3rd minute but may have waited a split second too long to pull the trigger. Rolled his ankle late in the first half and was subbed out in the 50th minute. Fernandez doesn't believe the injury is serious and says he should be fine in a day or two.
F Chris Rolfe (5) - Linked up nicely with Fernandez and Pappa in the first half but also had few errant passes at the same time resulting in turnovers. Did manage to get five shots off but only one was on target. A dangerous 8th minute attempt was stopped by Kocic.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Played a decent game and even contributed in the passing area early on. Set up Rolfe for the chance in the 8th minute. Had a couple of contested looks but both shots were off target.
F Sherjill MacDonald (6) - Came into the game for Oduro to start the second half and was a factor in several good sequences and chances. Set up Pappa's chance in the 72nd after a cheeky pass with his back to goal. Also combined well with Rolfe and just missed scoring in his first home game with a shot in the 85th minute that rolled wide of the far post. Very active and promising effort that should give Klopas more options up top over the last 12 games.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Came in for Fernandez in the 50th minute. Drew the foul in the 82nd that led to Berry's game winner. The Fire midfield continued to control the match even after Fernandez's exit.
M Alex (5) - Entered the match for Pause in the 74th as the Fire pushed for a game winner. A hard shot in the 77th was deflected wide for a corner kick.
C Frank Klopas (6) - The Fire are now 7-2-2 at home and have not lost to an Eastern Conference opponent at Toyota Park this season. Beating Toronto at home was a must and the team delivered. The new players have been seamlessly integrated in a short period of time.
Catch post-game video featuring Austin Berry, Marco Pappa, and Sherjill MacDonald at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.