CHICAGO, Ill. – The Chicago Fire (14-8-5; 47 pts.) used first half goals from Alvaro Fernandez and Chris Rolfe to topple Toronto FC (5-17-6, 21 points) 2-1 at BMO Field Wednesday night. The Fire have won four of their last five matches and currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Fire came close in the second minute when Chris Rolfe penetrated through the midfield before laying the ball off for Gonzalo Segares on the left. The Costa Rican defender entered the box and powered a low drive that TFC ‘keeper Milos Kocic turned away with his chest before the ball was cleared.
After setting the tempo through the early moments of the match, the Fire broke through 11 minutes later when Rolfe broke into the box up the middle before playing a charging Pavel Pardo on the left. The veteran midfielder took a one-time shot that came rang off the post. The second time was a charm for Pardo, who collected his rebound and lofted a cross for Alvaro Fernandez inside the box. The Uruguayan midfielder rose to head the ball past Kocic for his first Fire goal in the 13th minute. Fernandez became the 15th different Fire player to tally during the 2012 MLS campaign.
Toronto didn’t sit back following the goal and nearly equalized a minute later when Quincy Amarikwa chased down a ball and kept it alive in the box. Midfielder Andrew Wiedeman followed up the scramble and hit a low effort that Sean Johnson did well to get behind.
TFC continued to apply pressure the next minute when Luis Silva’s free kick picked out the head of striker Eric Hassli. The French forward’s nodded effort looped towards the upper right corner before Johnson made a diving stop to keep the Fire ahead.
The Fire would slowly pull back possession and would nearly double their lead in the 31st minute when Fernandez combined with Sherjill MacDonald at the top of the box before playing Rolfe through on the left. The Fire striker entered the area but struck his effort wide of Kocic’s goal.
Toronto would threaten again in the 36th minute when Amarikwa chased down a long ball out of the back from Richard Eckersley. The ball was cleared but fell for Silva before squaring for Jeremy Hall, however, the TFC right back pushed his long-range effort just wide right of Johnson’s goal.
TFC’s pressure wasn’t enough to keep the Fire from doubling the lead in the 42nd minute. Pavel Pardo’s corner kick from the right was headed away at the near post by Hassli, the nodded away again by Hall before the ball fell for Rolfe. This time, Rolfe made no mistake, unleashing a first-time effort through traffic that beat Kocic at the back post to take the Fire into the break leading 2-0.
The Fire came out of the break looking to TFC to the sword the 48th minute. Cutting to the middle from the right, Rolfe played a quick combination with MacDonald that saw him open at the top of the area. The veteran forward powered a low drive to the left post that Kocic turned around the bar for a corner.
Rolfe continued to threaten in the 62nd minute when Fernandez threaded him through the TFC backline, but his effort was put out for a corner by Kocic. Pardo’s take on the restart found the head of Arne Friedrich at the six yard box but the German defender nodded just wide of the near post.
Making his first appearance for the club, Fire newcomer Wells Thompson got in on the action in the 69th minute when Segares hit him in stride with a cross field pass. Thompson took a touch in the box before cranking his effort just wide right of goal.
Toronto would begin to threaten again in the final quarter hour, first when Ashtone Morgan crossed from the left looking for Luis Silva at the six but Johnson came off his line to claim the cross well before being fouled.
TFC would finally breakthrough in the 79th minute when Reggie Lambe fed Silva at the top of the penalty area. The midfielder held up the ball before laying off for a charging Hassli. The Frenchman took one touch and curled his effort around Johnson and inside the right post to take the score to 2-1.
Toronto nearly equalized three minutes later. Silva’s corner from the left was headed away by Segares before the ball fell for Avila. The second half substitute saw his first shot turned away but put his second effort towards the near post where Johnson dove to his left to keep the Fire ahead.
Playing hurriedly, the hosts would see their final chance to equalize come in the 84th minute when Richard Eckersley’s picked out Darren O’Dea with a cross from the right. The Irish international sent a powerful header at goal but Johnson was there once again to make the stop.
Toronto pressed through four minutes of stoppage time but couldn’t put another effort on goal, leaving the visitors with three points on the night. When all was said and done, Johnson notched five saves in the win.
The Fire return to action when they host the Jesse Marsch-led Montreal Impact at Toyota Park on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. CT live on CSN Chicago and 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes.
- The victory moves the Men in Red to 14-8-5 on the season and pushes the team into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.
- The Fire are 11-4-3 against Eastern Conference opponents in 2012.
- In seven of the last eight matches the Fire have not conceded more than one goal.
- Alvaro Fernandez’s 13th minute goal was the Uruguayan international’s first in a Fire shirt.
- Chris Rolfe’s 42nd minute goal was consequently the striker’s 42nd career MLS goal and 12th game winner for the Fire. Rolfe sits behind only Ante Razov in both categories (76 goals, 21 game winners).
- Fire captain Logan Pause played logged 90 minutes for the first time since fracturing two ribs and suffering pneumothorax in a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia on August 12.
- Acquired in a trade from the Colorado Rapids on Monday, midfielder Wells Thompson made his first appearance for the Fire, coming on in the 63rd minute for Alvaro Fernandez.
Chicago Fire 2 – 1 Toronto FC
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause ©, Pavel Pardo (Alex 76’), Alvaro Fernandez (Wells Thompson 63’); Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald (Dominic Oduro 71’)
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Dan Gargan, Corben Bone, Michael Videira
Toronto FC: Milos Kocic; Jeremy Hall (Ashtone Morgan 46’), Richard Eckersley, Darren O'Dea, Logan Emory (Eric Avila 56’); Reggie Lambe, Aaron Maund, Luis Silva, Andrew Wiedeman; Quincy Amarikwa (Matt Stinson 75’), Eric Hassli
Substitutes not used: Freddy Hall, Doneil Henry, Adrian Cann
CHI – Alvaro Fernandez (Pavel Pardo) 13’
CHI – Chris Rolfe (unassisted) 42’
TOR – Eric Hassli (Luis Silva, Reggie Lambe) 79’
TOR – Ashtone Morgan (caution) 66’
TOR – Eric Avila (caution) 90’
Referee: Ed Jurisevic
Assistants: Joe Fletcher, Claudio Badea
Fourth Official: Drew Fischer