CHICAGO, Ill. – The Chicago Fire used second half goals from Marco Pappa and Austin Berry to overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit and defeat Eastern Conference foes Toronto FC 2-1 Saturday night at Toyota Park. The Fire improved to 7-2-2 at Toyota Park and remain undefeated against Eastern Conference opponents at home.
The Fire came out motivated, holding TFC in its own half for much of the early going. The home side’s first chance would come eight minutes in when a ball out of the back was headed first by Alvaro Fernandez and then Dominic Oduro. The Ghanaian nodded it into the path of charging forward Chris Rolfe who took a touch but saw his shot denied by Toronto ‘keeper Milos Kocic.
The hosts would threaten again just three minutes later when Jalil Anibaba’s cross from the right was headed away by Ashtone Morgan. The ball fell for Marco Pappa outside of the box but his shot from distance was easily held by Kocic.
After early Fire domination, Toronto FC would take the lead against the run of play in the 16th minute when TFC striker Ryan Johnson ran onto an errant pass from Pappa to the back line. The Jamaican international strolled into the box and placed his effort past Sean Johnson to go up 1-0.
The Fire looked to bring the score level in the 24th minute when Rolfe took the ball up the left, cut inside and edged along the penalty area before rocketing his shot just wide right of the Toronto goal.
On the counterattack four minutes later, Rolfe would stroll through the midfield before laying off for Fernandez on the right. The Uruguayan international took the ball near the end line before centering a low pass for Oduro but he put his first-time effort over the bar.
Despite mostly one-way traffic, Toronto FC nearly stole a second goal just before halftime. Central midfielder Terry Dunfield sent in a penetrating cross from the left that Ryan Johnson flicked back for Luis Silva. The rookie midfielder took a close range shot that Sean Johnson dove to his left to turn away, preserving the 1-0 deficit going into the locker room.
Toronto would have the first chance of the second half in the 53rd minute when a Torsten Frings corner kick from the left bent away from Johnson to find Doneil Henry, but the defender headed his effort wide right of goal.
The Fire would finally find the equalizer 10 minutes later. Rolfe flicked an effort into the box that saw Henry’s clearance deflect off of Logan Emory before Pappa ran onto the ball, danced around Kocic and coolly threaded his effort between three defenders and into the far netting to bring the score to 1-1 in the 64th minute.
The Fire midfielder would nearly find a brace eight minutes later when a Toronto clearance out of the back was headed in by second half substitute Patrick Nyarko. Pappa collected the ball and played a quick combination with Pardo that sprung the Guatemalan international into the box but he pulled his shot left, hitting the outside netting.
Frank Klopas’ side continued to look for the go-ahead goal in the 76th minute when Rolfe’s pass out of the midfield was laid off by substitute striker Sherjill MacDonald for Alex but the Brazilian midfielder’s first-time shot went just wide left of goal.
The Fire would gain a man advantage three minutes later. Rolfe would hold up a ball out of the back at midfield but was chopped down by Emory. Having already received a yellow card in the 40th minute, referee Michael Kennedy fashioned another caution, taking TFC down to 10 men for the remainder of the match.
It took the home side just five minutes to put Toronto to the sword when Pardo’s in-swinging free kick from the left found the head of Austin Berry who powerfully nodded his effort past Kocic to give the Fire a 2-1 edge.
The Fire almost earned a two-goal victory a minute later when Rolfe’s misfired shot deflected to MacDonald on the right but the Dutch striker’s effort cut across the goal and just missed at the back post, leaving the hosts with a 2-1 home victory.
The Fire return to action when they travel to take on the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, August 12 at 6:00 p.m. CT live on Galavision and 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes. The Chicago Fire Soccer Club will hold the second annual Practice in the Community Presented by University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System in Chicago’s Historic Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen at Benito Juarez Community Academy (1450 – 1510 W. Cermak, Chicago, IL 60608) on Sunday, August 5 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. CT. Chicago Fire First Team training is scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m. CT.
- Saturday night’s win marks the fifth time during the regular season the Fire have come back from a deficit to earn three points.
- The victory moves the team’s home record to 7-2-2 on the 2012 MLS campaign
- The win extends the Fire’s unbeaten streak against Toronto FC to five matches, going 3-0-2 dating back to September 8, 2010.
- The victory also keeps the Fire unbeaten vs. Toronto FC at Toyota Park, going 3-0-3 against the Canadian side since 2007.
- Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez made his Fire debut, logging 50 minutes before coming off due to an ankle injury. Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald made his Toyota Park debut, replacing Dominic Oduro at the start of the second half.
- Marco Pappa’s 64th minute equalizer moves him into the team lead with six goals on the MLS campaign. The goal also moves the Guatemalan international into a tie with Peter Nowak for fourth on the club’s all-time list at 26.
Chicago Fire 2 – 1 Toronto FC
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Alvaro Fernandez (Patrick Nyarko 50’), Logan Pause © (Alex 74’), Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa; Chris Rolfe; Dominic Oduro (Sherjill MacDonald 46’)
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Dan Gargan, Daniel Paladini, Michael Videira
Toronto FC: Milos Kocic; Doneil Henry (Aaron Maund 78’), Richard Eckersley, Logan Emory, Ashtone Morgan; Reggie Lambe (Jeremy Hall 46’), Torsten Frings ©, Terry Dunfield, Luis Silva; Eric Hassli (Andrew Wiedeman 61’), Ryan Johnson;
Substitutes not used: Freddy Hall, Eric Avila, Quincy Amarikwa
TOR – Ryan Johnson (unassisted) 16’
CHI – Marco Pappa (unassisted) 64’
CHI – Austin Berry (Pavel Pardo) 84’
CHI – Arne Friedrich (caution) 34’
TOR – Logan Emory (caution) 40’
CHI – Dominic Oduro (caution) 45’
TOR – Logan Emory (caution) 79’
TOR – Logan Emory (ejection) 79’
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Assistants: Corey Parker, Mark Cahen
Fourth Official: Matthew Foerster