This weekend’s match will be a battle in a big city on a big lake with the Chicago Fire traveling to Toronto for their fourth away match this season.
It was just three short weeks ago that Chicago turned the momentum in their favor with a road win against D.C. United ending their brief winless streak at the start of the season. This should be a much more relaxed club, now unbeaten in their last three, but they’re not satisfied or happy about relinquishing their 1- nil lead vs. Chivas USA last weekend and only walking away with a point at home.
This weekend should mark CJ Brown’s 350th match across all MLS competitions. The humble leader feels that it's important for the Fire to come out with more energy and excitement then the Chivas USA match – especially when considering that Toronto usually packs in over 20,000 at home, so it's imperative for the Fire to quiet those raucous fans with an organized and patient attack. Brown also reiterated the importance of focus for the full 90, and he wants to see cleaner passing from his club.
On the attacking side, Patrick Nyarko could have a big afternoon. Toronto's defense seems a little dicey and inexperienced. He has the confidence of a player who wants and needs the ball, and isn’t afraid of its possession at crucial times. The Fire should also be stoked by the return of the Big Pole, Krzysztof Krol. Prior to receiving a red card in the Houston Dynamo game, he was enjoying the best match of his young MLS career. It will be nice to have his size and physical presence in hostile territory.
On the Toronto side, they are strong in the middle with Dwayne De Rosario and Julian de Guzman. Strangely enough they were both on the bench to begin last week’s match in Salt Lake.. Remember, this is the first time in MLS history that half the teams will not make the playoffs…food for thought, Coach Preki. Points are more precious than ever and it will be even more so next season with 18 clubs in MLS.
DeRosario continues to be very dangerous for Toronto. He notched his sixth goal of the season on a penalty kick in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to RSL. If not for some big stops by keeper Stefan Frei, the deficit could have been larger. Former Fire player, Chad Barrett, would probably love to shine versus his old club, and has been a valuable member for Toronto this season. Lastly, this will be the Fire’s first foray into the new 3.5 million dollar grass pitch installed in April at BMO field. The Reds of Toronto must like it – they are a perfect 2-0 at home, while losing all four road matches.
I say that perfection comes to halt with a 2-1 Fire victory on Saturday, propelled by Patrick Nyarko’s first goal of the season, as he gives defenders one more thing to worry about in MLS.