|Matchup||Chicago Fire (3-1-2, 11 pts.) at Toronto FC (1-1-4, 7 pts.)|
|Date||Friday, April 21 • 6:30 p.m. CT|
|Location||Toronto, Ont. • BMO Field|
|TV||COZI TV, CSN+ II, MLS Live (full tune in information)|
|Spanish Radio||Univision América 1200 (WRTO)|
|MLS Match Preview||Projected lineups, injuries, and more|
The Chicago Fire begin a three-match road swing this weekend in a Friday night showdown with Toronto FC. Head coach Greg Vanney's men enter the match with just a win and four draws to their credit so far this season, and will be looking for their first home win of 2017 when the whistle blows on Friday. Ahead of the Eastern Conference contest in Canada, here are a few key facts, faces and figures to keep in mind:
Key Number: 39
Don’t let their record fool you. This is still very much the same Toronto FC team with the same marquee names that were a mere Stefan Frei wondersave away from hoisting MLS Cup last season. They haven’t quite found their footing through their opening six matches, but sleeping on the likes of Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, and Michael Bradley would be a mistake. The Toronto attack has ripped nearly 40 shots in the last two games (39, to be exact), and they should be feeling a sense of urgency to both get and maintain a lead in front of an expectant home crowd on Friday night. It's a safe bet that they'll be up for this one.
Matchup to Watch: David Accam vs. Steven Beitashour & Eriq Zavaleta
To echo Paul Tenorio’s sentiments from Wednesday’s episode of Fire Weekly, Friday night’s matchup looks like one upon which the Fire wingers can feast. Toronto will assuredly get their fullbacks forward into attack, likely leaving vacated space out wide for some combination of David Accam, Luis Solignac, Michael de Leeuw, Arturo Alvarez and/or Daniel Johnson to go to work in. Should Accam bag one of his vintage, blistering goals from transition (fun times here, here, and here) on Friday night, it wouldn't be entirely surprising.
One Big Question: Can the Fire keep up their collective defensive form on the road?
The Fire enter their three-game road swing following consecutive clean sheets in front of the home fans. While there’s evidence that the defensive unit is gelling, keeping a formative Toronto attack at bay is a tall ask of just about any team in the league. For a deeper dive into the stats behind the Fire’s recent defensive displays, click here.
Quote of the Week:
That’s the current MLS Team of the Week member Solignac during his appearance on the latest episode of Fire Weekly. Developing a winning mentality is something that head coach Veljko Paunovic has preached relentlessly since his arrival in Chicago. With matches in Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles upcoming, the next couple weeks will provide a good gauge for where this team stands mentally as they look to take the next step.
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From the Media Guide:
- The Fire are 9-7-8 all-time in regular season matches against Toronto FC, including a 4-6-3 record in matches played at BMO Field.
- Toronto FC has won four straight games in the series, all by one-goal margins.
- Chicago's last win at BMO Field came on Sept. 12, 2012, a 2-1 outcome that was part of a late-season four-match winning streak for the Men In Red.
- Toronto FC goalkeeper coach Jon Conway spent the final season of his professional career with the Fire. In 2011, Conway started six league matches and made 15 saves en route to a 1.33 goals against average.