TORONTO (April 6, 2019) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club battled Toronto FC to a 2-2 draw in a hard-fought match at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon. Fire forward CJ Sapong scored his team-leading third goal of the season in the draw, while forward Nemanja Nikolić tallied his first. Additionally, rookie defender Jeremiah Gutjahr and midfielders Aleksandar Katai and Dax McCarty each tallied an assist.
The assist was Gutjahr’s first at the professional level, as he made his second consecutive MLS start in Saturday’s match.
The Fire’s first opportunity of the match came in the 25th minute when midfielder Djordje Mihailović floated a well-weighted ball into the 18-yard box to Sapong. Running onto Mihailović’s cross, which was carefully lofted over defender Chris Mavinga’s head, Sapong connected with a left footed attempt that went just wide of the target.
With the game beginning to open up, the home side took the lead in the 31st minute of play when midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo drove a cross to the back post for forward Jozy Altidore, who nodded the ball in from close range.
After a tightly contested 45 minutes, the Fire scored the equalizing goal through a direct play one minute into stoppage time in the first half. Receiving the ball near the center circle, Gutjahr lobbed a precise pass over the top of the defense, finding Sapong in stride. After taking a soft first touch, Sapong cleverly chipped the ball with his left foot past goalkeeper Alex Bono to bring the game level (WATCH).
Less than 20 minutes into the second half, the Fire took a 2-1 lead after forcing a turnover in the final third and attacking on the break. With the Men in Red winning the ball near the halfway line, Katai carried the ball down the left side of the pitch, outpacing two defenders, before playing a perfectly placed ball for Nikolić who converted from the edge of the six-yard box (WATCH).
As the end-to-end action ensued, Toronto FC leveled the score in the 76th minute when Altidore clipped the ball to the back post for midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who scored the team’s second header of the game.
With the draw, the Fire are unbeaten in its last two matches in league play. The Fire’s next match will take place at home on Friday, April 12 against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at SeatGeek Stadium. Beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT, the match against Whitecaps FC will be broadcast live on ESPN+ and transmitted locally on Univision Radio WRTO AM 1200.
- Defender Johan Kappelhof recorded his 100th regular season appearance for the Fire on Saturday. Kappelhof has recorded the most appearances for the Men in Red since 2016.
- Gutjahr notched his first professional assist in just his second MLS start.
- Sapong scored his third goal of the season, which ranks as the most on the team in 2019.
- Nikolić scored his first goal of the season and the 40th of his MLS career. Nikolić won the 2017 MLS Golden Boot award.
- Midfielder Nicolás Gaitán made his second straight appearance in Saturday’s match coming on in the 69thminute.
- Midfielder Amando Moreno made his first appearance for the Fire since joining the team from the New York Red Bulls in the offseason.
- Katai and team captain McCarty each registered their first assist of the season.
Chicago Fire 2:2 Toronto FC
TOR – Altidore (3) (Pozuelo, DeLeon) 31’
CHI – Sapong (3) (Gutjahr) 45+1’
CHI – Nikolić (1) (Katai, McCarty) 62’
TOR – Osorio (1) (Altidore) 76’
TOR – Laryea (Caution) 37’
CHI – Katai (Caution) 37’
CHI – Nikolic (Caution) 52’
CHI – Mihailović (Caution) 56’
TOR – Pozuelo (Caution) 57’
CHI – Schweinsteiger (Caution) 81’
Chicago Fire: GK Ousted, D Kappelhof, D Marcelo, D Schweinsteiger, D Gutjahr, M Adams, M McCarty © (Bronico 80’), M Katai (Moreno 90+4’), M Mihailović, M Sapong, F Nikolić (Gaitán 69’)
Subs not used: Cleveland, Campos, Lillard, Martínez
Shots: 7 Shots on goal: 3 Fouls Committed: 14 Fouls Suffered: 5 Offsides: 1 Corners: 2
Toronto FC: GK Bono, D Moor, D Mavinga, D Morrow, M DeLeon, M Laryea (Akinola 68’), M Bradley, M Delgado (Chapman 79’), M Osorio, F Pozuelo, F Altidore
Subs not used: Westberg, Ciman, Morgan, Fraser, Hamilton
Shots: 16 Shots on goal: 8 Fouls Committed: 5 Fouls Suffered: 14 Offsides: 1 Corners: 5
Referee: Armando Villareal
Assistant Referees: Jeffrey Greeson, Jeremy Kieso,
Fourth Official: Ramy Touchan
VAR: Sorin Stoica