Fire 2 Toronto FC 1 - recap and ratings

The Fire moved into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference by virtue of their third victory of the season over hapless Toronto FC.  This match wasn't always pretty although the club enjoyed a 2 goal lead at half time but the Fire managed to accomplish what good teams always seem to find ways to do.  Win on the road.

After the Fire took the lead on the first career Chicago goal by Alvaro Fernandez, Toronto managed to grab control of the match a bit before Chris Rolfe extinguished their hopes with a crushing goal before half time.  The only real problem remains the occasional lack of concentration defensively as evidenced by the apparent breakdown in team marking which resulted in the loss of what would have been a well earned clean sheet in the 79th minute.

Regardless of losing the shut out, the Fire did what good playoff teams do in all sports.  They beat an opponent they needed to beat on the road when they had to beat them.  They're not a perfect club on the pitch by any means (that big time striker is still missing) but they're going to be a major factor in the East down the stretch.

Consider this.  The combination of a Sporting KC loss to Houston this Friday and a Fire win against Montreal on Saturday will push Chicago into a first place tie in the Eastern Conference.  The opportunity is there for a top of the table finish.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - Contributed 5 saves including a huge stop on Eric Hassli in the 15th that prevented Toronto FC from tying the match.  Lost a cross due to some indecision in the 19th minute which resulted in a shaky moment but he was otherwise solid as he has been for the last several months.  Managed to get a fingertip on Avila's dangerous blast in the 82nd.

D Gonzalo Segares (7) - In good position to clear loose balls, stop possession, and help out wherever necessary.  One of Segares' better games recently.  Had the first scoring chance of the night in the 2nd minute.

D Austin Berry (6) - His name wasn't called much but his steady presence is a good compliment to Friedrich's game as a centerback who roams a bit.  Berry should be considered a front runner for the MLS Rookie of the Year award.  Darren Mattocks, Luis Silva, Nick DeLeon, and Matt Hedges would seem to be the top competition.

D Arne Friedrich (6) - Had an excellent game and this might have been a tick higher but he appeared to lose a man-mark on Hassli in the 79th minute which resulted in the lone TFC score.  All over the field defensively breaking up attacks and clearing balls aerially.

D Jalil Anibaba (6) - A decent game for Anibaba as well although he got sucked into the middle of the box along with just about every other Fire defender on Hassli's goal.  Worked his way into the attack on several occasions but crossing ability does need to improve.

M Pavel Pardo (7) - Set the tone early forcing a turnover in the 12th minute which allowed Fernandez to play the to Rolfe.  His subsequent pass found Pardo but his shot hit the post.  The veteran immediately gathered the rebound and found Fernandez for the score to give the Fire the lead.  Had control of midfield while he was in there and I thought the Fire lost a bit in the center of the pitch after his departure.

M Logan Pause (6) - His name wasn't called much but he did break up a handful of Toronto forays forward as usual.  I'm not sure how he managed to get back on the field so quickly after breaking ribs and puncturing a lung but he somehow has managed to recover enough to play a full 90 minutes.  Would liked to have seen less TFC possession after the Fire's first goal though.

M Patrick Nyarko (7) - Tireless effort and constant beatings are part of typical nights for Nyarko.  Despite the physical abuse he endures from defenders he continues to cause havoc even late in matches.  Set up MacDonald for a 1v1 chance in the 41st and nearly missed scoring himself a few minutes later when his shot nearly found the inside of the far post on a counter.  Continued to be the Fire's main threat with the ball at his feet in the second half.

M Alvaro Fernandez (6) - A bit of an up and down night for Fernandez with some difficulty in passing and maintaining possession but he did finally manage to break into the scoring column with his first Fire goal in the 13th minute.

F Chris Rolfe (6) - The same can be said for Rolfe who had a bit of a slow start but his game picked up as the match advanced in the first half.  Scored his 6th goal of the year in the 42nd, giving him the club lead.  His volley from just inside the box found the back of the net and you almost expect he can bury those every time.

F Sherjill MacDonald (5) - He can play well with his back to the net as a post player and has a good rhythm in combination with Rolfe and Fernandez but strikers need to put away chances.  His touch failed him in the 41st botching a clear 1v1 opportunity and he blasted another one high in the 63rd.  Probably a better option than Oduro because of his passing ability but strikers need to score.

M Wells Thompson (5) - Came on for Fernandez in the 63rd and managed to work his way into the box for a shot, although it sailed wide.  The Fire were in a bit of a scramble down the stretch with Nyarko the only real threat on the wings.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - Not involved much at all after entering the match in the 71st minute for MacDonald.  To be fair he wasn't presented with many opportunities to receive the ball anywhere near goal.

M Alex (5) - Subbed in for Pardo in the 76th and had a few moments but you'd like to see him do a little more with the ball at his feet - particularly in protecting a lead.

C Frank Klopas (6) - With a fourteenth win the Fire seem poised to win 17 or 18 games this season after winning 9 last year.  I've mentioned before that Klopas deserves a great deal of credit for moving forward and not missing a beat after the loss of Grazzini and now Marco Pappa.  Winning on the road is difficult in MLS and even if it is TFC the effort should still be applauded.  If the Fire win 17 or 18 games while maintaining their position in the standings, Klopas must seriously be considered for MLS Coach of the Year recognition.

Comments

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  • I only managed to catch the 2nd half, but I was stoked to see the 2-0 scoreline at the start of the last 45. I know Toronto is bottom of the table, injury-ridden, and suffering from international absences... but unlike in past seasons the Fire took it to them in their own park. And I know it was a bit too close in the end when they let Toronto back in. But I'll take the win.

    I take the 2nd place in the East with a grain of salt, too. I don't think we're going to fall apart, but the division is so tight that it's not a real predictor of where we'll finally finish. But topping the division for the regular season would be very sweet indeed...

  • I feel for TFC. ESPN magazine ranked all the franchises in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB and the Mapleleafs were very near the bottom and, I think, 2d from bottom in the ownership category (Sacramento Kings were last). They have great fans and just get screwed over all the time.
    That said, the family vacation this year was to Ontario to visit friends and we set it up to see the Fire-TFC game in July. Last night's game was the rescheduling of that so TFC could play Liverpool (the weekend the Fire played Villa). So, I don't feel that bad.

  • I hope thompson was so bad because he hasn't trained with the fire alot.. But I thought he was terrible. Not sure why Frank felt the need to throw him out there.

  • DC United has announced that Dwayne DeRosario will miss 10-12 weeks with an MCL sprain.

    I thought they were going to be hard pressed to nab the 5th playoff spot even with DeRo. Now they're really in trouble.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    One has to consider that DC has a ridiculously easy schedule coming up, though. Their next five games are against the bottom three teams in the East and the bottom two in the West.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    Also have to remember that some of those "easy" games are on the road where DCU has been awful this season. 3-9-1 and outscored 24-12.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    No doubt that DC could screw it up. But if you compare the Crew's next five for example, it includes games at NY, at Chicago and KC at home. So I would expect DC to have a leg up on the Crew when they meet at RFK. If DC can win that one, their chances to qualify look pretty good.

  • Wow those blue road jerseys really thru me off! I was cheering for the wrong team 1/2 the time! LOL ;-)

    Great win but Frank needs to use a sub or 2 earlier especially with a home game Saturday and with the travel, these boys will be tired!
    Hopefully we can rely on our deep bench for saturdays game again Montreal.

  • Wow DC ripped us apart the last time we played them and DeRo's absence should really hurt them! I guess the Crew are in the playoffs this year, but DC has a really different team and could still make it!

    We have 1st spot in the playoffs in our grasps now as you said G.R. WOW!!! Especially after 2 years of missin the playoffs this is long over due and very rewarding! :-)

  • Personally, I seriously, seriously doubt DCU makes the playoffs now. They are a markedly different team when DeRo isn't on the pitch.

    For the Fire, this is good momentum to carry them into Saturday against Montreal. Both teams are far different than their season opening meeting, and Chicago won' t be fighting against the 50k+ 12th man Saturday. Should be a good match.

  • Steve Goff reporting that Orr Barouch has been loaned to Israeli side Bnei Yehuda.

    http://twitter.com/SoccerInsider/status/246274546548740096

  • so who won the tracy lotto? apparently the draw was at 10am today.

  • San Jose has won the weighted allocation lottery for Aalborg forward Marcus Tracy. The Fire were one of 8 teams participating in the lottery.

  • The Barouch deal finally gets done as a loan to Bnei Yehuda......

    http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/09/fire-loan-orr-barouch-bnei-yehuda-tel-aviv-fc

    The Israeli window does not close unitl next week so it was possible to get this deal done.

  • Chris Rolfe's goal made it to number 5 on ESPN's Top Plays yesterday.

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    Saweet. I personally think he's had much better looking goals, but this actually showed how technically gifted Rolfe is. To catch a ball on the fly and hammer it through at that angle shows not just skill, but talent. Sigh.. do you think Rolfe hasn't had his chance to really shine as a star because of injuries and his excursion to europe? I know earlier in his career he was a tad bit inconsistent as well, some nights dangerous, sometimes a non-factor. But I have to say, if Rolfe had more games this season, especially at the start of the season, he could be looking at 10+ goals right now and making a case as one of the premiere strikers in this league.

    I totally admit, as you all know already, I have a man crush on this dude. In a good way.

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