ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2017) – The Chicago Fire topped defending Eastern Conference Champion Toronto FC 4-1 to close the preseason on Saturday at Al Lang Stadium.
Michael de Leeuw tallied twice while Juninho and Nemanja Nikolic accounted for Chicago’s additional goals. Chicago took a 3-0 lead into halftime and upped their lead to 4-0 before Toronto FC pulled one back in the 89th minute. The Fire finished preseason with a 6-0-0 record.
HIGHLIGHTS | Chicago Fire 4:1 Toronto FC
Juninho opened the scoring with a blistering shot in the 9th minute. The Brazilian midfielder teed up from 25 yards out and sent his shot into the top left corner.
Michael de Leeuw won a penalty for the Fire in the 16th minute. Toronto FC goalkeeper Clint Irwin took de Leeuw down on the right edge of the box, and Nikolic stepped up to the spot for a top-shelf finish.
Chicago made it 3-0 in the 39th minute with nifty passing sequence in Toronto FC’s box. David Accam dribbled into the left side of the box and slipped a pass to Nikolic. Nikolic returned to sender with a one-touch pass, Accam whipped a teasing ball low across the frame, and de Leeuw provided the finished product with a tap-in at the back post.
It was de Leeuw again in the 74th minute. This time, de Leeuw stepped in front of an errant pass toward Toronto FC’s backline, took a touch, then fired into the top right corner.
Toronto FC’s Tosaint Ricketts closed the scoring with a penalty kick in the 89th minute.
The Fire upped their preseason record to 6-0-0. The Men in Red open their MLS regular season against Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, March 4 at MAPFRE Stadium. Kickoff is 1 p.m. CT on CSN Chicago.
QUOTE SHEET | Reactions from Paunovic, de Leeuw
Chicago Fire 4:0 Toronto FC
Feb. 25, 2017 – Al Lang Stadium
CHI – Juninho (Arturo Alvarez) 9
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (penalty kick) 16
CHI – Michael de Leeuw (David Accam, Nemanja Nikolic) 39
CHI – Michael de Leeuw (unassisted) 74
TOR – Tosaint Ricketts (penalty kick) 89
TOR – Clement Simonin (caution) 61
Chicago Fire: Jorge Bava, Michael Harrington (^Chad Barson 62), Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira (Jonathan Campbell 75), Brandon Vincent, Dax McCarty, Juninho ©, Arturo Alvarez (John Goossens 62), Michael de Leeuw (David Arshakyan 75), David Accam (Luis Solignac 62), Nemanja Nikolic (Djordje Mihailovic 75).
*Unsigned 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick
Toronto FC: Clint Irwin, Clement Simonin (Johan Brunell 67), Drew Moor (Brandon Aubrey HT), Nick Hagglund, Steven Beitashour (Raheem Edwards HT), Michael Bradley © (Victor Vazquez HT), Armando Cooper (Benoit Cheyrou HT), Jonathan Osorio (Jay Chapman HT), Justin Morrow (Tsubasa Endoh HT), Sebastian Giovinco (Ben Spencer HT), Jozy Altidore (Tosaint Ricketts HT).