BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After two glaring defensive miscues, it was heroics by a defender that proved the difference on Saturday night as a late header by centerback Austin Berry pushed the Chicago Fire to a 2-1 win over visitors Toronto FC.
TFC struck first, pouncing on a bad backpass from midfielder Marco Pappa in the 16th-minute – a pass to Berry – that Ryan Johnson coolly converted for the 1-0 lead.
But both Pappa and Berry would make amends in the second half. The Guatemalan took advantage of an errant touch by Toronto defender Logan Emory to draw the Fire level in the 64th-minute before Berry completed the comeback off a Pavel Pardo freekick.
Chicago seemed poised to draw first blood in the 3rd minute, as Fire debutant Alvaro Fernandez collected a cross at the top of the six-yard box in the 3rd minute. The Uruguayan, however, took one two many touches, and the chance ultimately came to nothing.
Four minutes later, Fernandez almost had an assist when he flicked on a header to Chris Rolfe, who couldn’t beat goalkeeper Milos Kocic on a breakaway.
Chicago’s profligacy would come back to haunt them in the 16th minute, as Johnson Pappa’s errant pass. Though goalkeeper Sean Johnson got a hand on the Jamaican’s shot, he could only watch as it rolled into the net.
Toronto almost doubled their lead just before the halftime whistle, as midfielder Luis Silva got a clear shot from 12-yards out. This time, Johnson made no mistake, getting low to make a spectacular save and preserve the score.
Marco Pappa leveled the game in the 64th minute when Emory failed to control the ball in the box, getting past an oncoming Kocic and slotting a shot past defender Richard Eckersley and into the open net.
Emory’s struggles continued in the 79th minute when the received his second yellow card, giving the Fire a one-man advantage. The Fire were able to exploit it when Berry nodded in the eventual winner in the 84th minute.
After going on a four-game winning streak in July, Toronto have now dropped two in a row, with a chance to get back on track against the Columbus Crew next Saturday at Crew Stadium.
The Fire, meanwhile, will travel to PPL Park to face the Philadelphia Union.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Chris Rolfe||Despite early denials by Kocic, Rolfe was consistently the best attacking threat for Chicago, forcing TFC to lavish attention on him in the second half.|
|2||Patrick Nyarko||Just a 40-minute shift from the Ghanaian, but he made it count. Won the foul that set up the winner, and was ruthlessly incisive.|
|3||Ashtone Morgan||On a night when Toronto couldn't get much going on offense, Morgan made himself heard.|