Toronto FC 3 Fire 1 - recap and ratings

The first big road test for the Fire in the new Schweinsteiger era didn't turn out well. Toronto FC, the presumed class of the Eastern Conference, handled Chicago reasonably easily en route to a 3-1 victory over the visitors. Their game plan wasn't difficult to guess coming in. Crowd Schweinsteiger, attack the right side, and test the goalkeeper at any opportunity. It worked and the Fire are likely to face more of the same tactics, particularly on the road.

The first twenty minutes of the match provided some decent play from Chicago but the final ball was lacking before Giovinco scored in the 28th to put them in catch-up mode. From there on out, the Fire didn't have much chance as Toronto generated 18 shot attempts. What looked like a missed handball in the penalty area in the 72nd might have gotten them back into the match, but Toronto was clearly better on the night.

Chicago now has one win in their last nine matches against Toronto FC, who they will face again in August.

The next three contests should be a pretty good indication of how far the Fire have come with road games against the New York Red Bulls and struggling Los Angeles Galaxy before returning home to face the Seattle Sounders.

One loss, on the road to Toronto isn't much reason to dash any playoff hopes just yet. There's a long way to go, but the questions about the defense and goalkeeping have existed since January. If this game is an indication, there aren't any answers there at the moment.

Player ratings

GK Jorge Bava (4.5) - Credited with six saves but most were easily handed long distance attempts. Slow on his feet and off his line in both of the first two goals. Got a fingertip on the third goal but Giovinco had nowhere to go but upper corner in the attempt from 24 yards out, and he was still slow to get there. Did well go get a fingertip on Altidore's close range shot in the dying seconds.

D Michael Harrington (4) - Did provide a couple of acceptable crosses in the early going but after the talk during most of the lead-up to this game centered around not giving Giovinco space....he gave him space and it resulted in the first goal. Failed to close down the right side on the second goal. A handful of giveaways helps accentuates why the Fire need another plan at right back.

D Johan Kappelhof (5) - A lot of scrambling to cover space. He will continue to accumulate yellow cards as long as he's sprinting to recover vacated areas on the right side.

D Joao Meira (5) - Mixed bag with 2 clearances and 4 recoveries but also some shaky moments against Altidore.

D Brandon Vincent (5.5) - Some success getting forward and will continue to be involved as long as Schweinsteiger is playing generally on the left. His defensive game is aided by opposition attacking on the other side.

M Dax McCarty (5) - The Fire won the overall possession battle (55-45) and completed 82% of their passes but TFC had control of the match after about the 20th minute. Bradley and TFC were more effective in the middle of the pitch. Give away led to Altidore chance in the 77th.

M Juninho (5) - Chicago completed passes and had some possession but only mustered one shot on target in nine attempts. Juninho had on long distance try in the 9th. Giovinco found success in the middle in spaces that should have been covered by him, however.

M Bastian Schweinsteiger (5.5) - Nowhere near as effective as he was in his three previous matches. Did provide a few glimmers with a couple of passes/crosses but nothing significant.

M Michael de Leeuw (5) - As he's asked to play out wide, the most effective part of his game with movement off the ball around goal is somewhat negated. Seldom involved in this match.

M Luis Solignac (5.5) - Picked up an assist on the only goal, set up Schweinsteiger for a failed return pass in the 56th. A couple of give aways didn't help.

F Nemanja Nikolic (5) - An early goal was negated, rightfully by an offside call. Never involved much after that. Had to attempt to cover space vacated by Harrington on the third goal.

M David Accam (5.5) - Replaced de Leeuw in the 61st and scored the only goal to keep the score line respectable.

M Daniel Johnson (5) - Subbed in for Nikolic in the 70th. Highlight was a good sequence in the 73rd which led to a shot attempt but also committed at least two fouls after being dispossessed.

M Arturo Alvarez (5) - Came on for Schweinsteiger in 84th.

Filed under: 2017 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • fb_avatar

    So are the Fire going to reposition a player to play RB, or are they looking for a trade/transfer for that spot?

  • In reply to Jimmy Garcia:

    I think you'll see Polster there as soon as he's fit to start.

  • How about Villafana? I don't think he's getting many minutes in MX

  • In reply to Shinny:

    VillafaƱa's rights are either owned by the Timbers, and so a deal with Timbers would need to be done, or he would come back through the allocation order. I think Timbers relinquished their rights, and we're 20th in the allocation order. Besides, we need a right back and he's a left back. While repurposing is always possible, if it were easy then Doody would be playing right back instead of Harrington.

  • Bava looks very bad at all times. He looks very uncomfortable with the ball at his feet (a strength according to Pauno) and he cannot make saves to win games. He looks very old, because he is, and doesn't add anything to this team. He turns 36 in August. I think he is more of a problem than Harrington is. You can get away with having a weak player at outside back but having a weak keeper makes you play completely different. You do all you can to not let the ball on target because you know it is more than likely going in. At some point, Lampson needs to be given a game because Bava is very clearly not good enough.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    If Bava doesn't implode, MLS teams join the Open Cup 7 weeks from tomorrow, so I'd assume Lamp would get the nod to start at least that.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Bava is hard to define as a goalkeeper. His reaction time seems very, almost painfully slow. Its like he is surprised that anyone would dare shoot from beyond 8 yds.With his frame and reach he should not be getting beat to his near post from outside the 18. His dive technique appears very uncoordinated, as an old keeper its hard to watch. The only thing I can praise him on are his brave neck breaker into a crowd parries of the low whipped in crosses. And I cant fault a keeper for playing a ball out of play when he receives a risky pass back from an outside back with a forward screaming in on him, its the ones who do that with no one around for 30yds or do so on a goal kick (SJ).
    Since this roster is the best on paper it has been for years, hoping the powers that be recognize him simply as a caretaker of the position until someone better becomes available, and yes, probably time to get Lampson in for some minutes. And there is no reason to waste an international spot on Goalkeeping, its the one position us Yanks have consistently done pretty well at the last few decades

  • Overall, with Toronto's results the previous 6 games, they were a beachball being held under the water waiting to pop up. It would have taken some really good effort to beat them. And with Giovinco taking the deadly shots he makes from inside and outside the box, I couldn't see Bava beating him.

    On to the next game.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    So Bava is making more than Sean Johnson and counts as an international. Remind me again how trading Johnson and signing Bava was the better option?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Sean wanted to leave.

  • In reply to Ahan Jain:

    There was a reason for that.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I would have wanted to leave too if I was being benched for someone who showed game after game that he didn't have what it takes to be a starting GK. I hope SJ continues to do well at NYCFC. Although... I miss my Aldi Milk coupons.

    Pauno and N-Rod only have themselves to blame for their GK situation

  • In reply to edubs:

    That Paunovic wanted a new GK is one thing; Johnson is an average MLS keeper. But if you're going to replace him, at least find someone who is better. Bava is not better.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Johnson is an above average keeper

  • In reply to Ahan Jain:

    Agreed, was getting time with usmnt before the fire hit rock bottom as a team defensively then the new staff benched him. He would make the frustrating mistake pass out of bounds occasionally, but he was a great shot stopper for the fire. I miss the milkman

  • In reply to Ahan Jain:

    Johnson has very good shot-stopping ability thanks to his excellent reflexes. Where he struggles is reading the game properly. His positioning is poor all too frequently, and as a result, saves/catches/punches that should be easy wind up being difficult, or worse, turn into.goals.

    And I don't miss all of the goal kicks he sent outside the field.

    So there was plenty of room for the Fire to improve at the GK position. Bava, however, is not an improvement. If the Fire had replaced Johnson with a stud GK, then we're not even having this discussion.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Ah, he didn't practice cheerfully enough.

  • In reply to Ahan Jain:

    And who could blame him?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thanks for these links, GR, I always look forward to seeing who's making what. And since, for most MLS players at least, American soccer is not quite a lucrative proposition (but improving), I'm curious to know what 'side hustles' players may have in the off-season (vis a vis the MLB old days when players drove cab or did factory work 'til February came around). No need to name names, but does anyone know what occupations American pro players hold down in the off-season?

  • In reply to Heroic Oaf:

    With soccer being a year-round job at this point, I don't think many guys are pulling side hustles any more.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Qunicytime!

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Thought I read on his website a while back that he was available as a motivational speaker or 'life coach' - now there's a gig.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Point well-taken - I had forgotten how stretched-out the regular season is, on top of spring training AND playoffs, if you're lucky. Still, a rookie needs to make his check stretch. Thought there may be a few hanging drywall for their uncle or sump'n.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I see Arshakyan's making 156G - take the money and run (like you just robbed a Seven Eleven!)

  • I'm trying to understand why Campbell is sitting. Didn't Pauno say that he thought Campbell will be a US National Team player in the future? Well....I think he will be better than Meira in the long term. They need to let him play otherwise he will lose his desire to play for the Fire.

    Bava is not a good keeper. But I think he is better than Lampson which is sad.

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