After sitting idle in MLS play for 10 days, the Chicago Fire will look to climb into second place in the Eastern Conference with a victory tonight at Toronto FC (LIVE at 6pm CT on NBC 5.2 and 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes).
Here are five things you should know heading into tonight’s match.
WATCH: Previewing TFC
1) THE NUMBER 200 LOOMS for both the Chicago Fire and longtime left back Gonzalo Segares. What does that mean exactly?
Heading into Wednesday night’s match, the team sits on 198 all-time regular season wins while the Costa Rican international sits on the same number of competitive appearances in a Fire shirt. Segares is expected to get 199 tonight but a team victory would set both up to hit 200 at home Saturday vs. Montreal...
2) ONE PLAYER THAT MIGHT NOT BE IN THE 18 TONIGHT is Daniel Paladini. The midfielder, who filled in admirably for Logan Pause last month, suffered a calf strain in training Monday leaving his participation against Toronto FC in doubt.
3) THE LONG RUMORED TRADE of Wells Thompson from the Colorado Rapids to the Chicago Fire went down late Monday night and he traveled with the team to Toronto on Tuesday.
A scrappy player and veteran of two MLS Cup finals (with one ring), Fire head coach Frank Klopas stated he expects Thompson to bring depth to the wings behind the likes of Patrick Nyarko and Alvaro Fernandez. Given Paladini’s injury, Klopas can also utilize his newest addition in the middle if need be.
4) TORONTO’S HAD A LOT OF INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES but received a boost this week with Irish international Darren O’Dea as well as Bermudan pair Reggie Lambe and Freddy Hall returning ahead of Wednesday night’s game.
The Canadian pair of Terry Dunfield and Ashtone Morgan were unused substitutes in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at Panama but a long continental flight today doesn’t seem like the best precursor to trying to play an MLS match tonight. Even if it did, Dunfield is supposed to be suspended for his next MLS match, though it remains unclear with the closeness of the international date to this game (24 hours) if that suspension is being served tonight or TFC’s next game.
Meanwhile just a bit south, Ryan Johnson played 90 minutes in Jamaica’s 1-0 loss to the United States in Columbus on Tuesday, leaving it unlikely that the striker could sneak back into Toronto and play a part in tonight’s match.
On the flip, Toronto should be boosted by the return of forward Eric Hassli a rib injury, so there’s that.
5) IF THE STANDINGS DON’T TELL YOU who the favorite is in this game, the form chart certainly will. Heading into Wednesday night, Eastern Conference bottom dwellers Toronto FC haven’t won in seven matches, going 0-5-2 since defeating Colorado 2-1 on July 18. In the same span, the Fire are 4-2-1 and coming off one of the biggest wins of the season, a 3-1 defeat of Houston on September 2.
Historically speaking, the Fire should be favorites against TFC tonight as well. Toronto are 4-12-5 all-time in September, their worst showing in both points and points per game out of any full calendar month during the MLS season.
BONUS THING: Did you know that no less than nine current Fire players have tallied against Toronto FC in their career? Eight of them did it while wearing a Fire shirt (only Alvaro Fernandez scored against the Reds while with Seattle).
Of them, Chris Rolfe leads the way with three, Dominic Oduro has two (including the fastest goal in Fire history earlier this year) while Orr Barouch, Austin Berry, Dan Gargan, Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause and Gonzalo Segares have all scored against TFC since the club joined the league in 2007.