BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (Sept. 29, 2019) – The Chicago Fire (9-12-12, 39 points) drew Toronto FC (12-10-11, 47 points) 2-2 in its final home match of the season at SeatGeek Stadium on Sunday evening. The Fire’s goals were scored by midfielders Aleksandar Katai and Fabian Herbers. Chicago will close out its regular season on Sunday, Oct. 6 against Orlando City SC in Orlando, Fla.
The first chance of the match came in favor of the visitors, as Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm was called into action in the 13th minute. Anticipating a dangerous ball to forward Jozy Altidore, Kronholm came charging off his line to deny the striker’s shot from close range.
Three minutes later, Chicago responded with its own opportunity to score when defender Francisco Calvo got on the end of midfielder Nicolás Gaitán’s bending corner kick and powered a header on target that was saved by goalkeeper Quentin Westberg. In the 20th minute, Gaitán created another opportunity when he drove the ball through the 18-yard box for forward Nemanja Nikolić, who redirected the cross just wide of the far corner.
In the 27th minute, the Men in Red continued to pressure Toronto deep in its own half and came within inches of scoring. After a bad turnover by Toronto, a pass from forward CJ Sapong found midfielder Przemysław Frankowski, who redirected an attempt that rattled off the post before being cleared away.
Moments later, in the 33rd minute, Kronholm was called upon to make another crucial save. As a dangerous corner kick came into the box, defender Omar Gonzalez nodded a strong header on target that required an acrobatic save by the diving German-American goalkeeper.
After an end-to-end first half, both teams entered the break level at 0-0. The Fire led TFC in shots (9-4) and shots on target (3-2) at the half.
Less than 15 minutes into the second half, Toronto managed to score against the run of play when Altidore got behind the Fire defenders and beat Kronhom through the legs from just inside the 18-yard box in the 59th minute.
Head Coach Veljko Paunović then made a double substitution, bringing on midfielders Aleksandar Katai and Fabian Herbers for Brandt Bronico and CJ Sapong. The Fire saw an immediate impact. Moments after entering the field, Katai dribbled past his defender and played a piercing ball through the six-yard box. Nikolić slid and knocked it on target, but Westberg managed to make a point-blank save with his feet.
Just three minutes later, the Serbian winger would find the back of the net to bring the Fire level. Receiving a through ball from Frankowski on the break, Katai carried the ball into the box and fired a left-footed shot into the goal, tallying his fifth of the season. Additionally, Frankowski recorded his ninth assist of the season on the play, which ranks as the second-most on the team.
Gaining momentum from Katai’s goal, the Fire found their second goal less than 10 minutes later when Herbers scored his third of the season. Receiving a short corner from Frankowski, Gaitán curled the ball into the 18-yard box for Herbers, who carefully flicked his header into the far corner in the 77th minute.
In the 80th minute, Toronto FC found the game-tying goal when defender Omar Gonzalez scored off a corner kick, sending a powerful header into the top corner.
With the 2-2 result, the Fire were eliminated from qualifying for the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. Chicago will play its final match of the 2019 regular season against Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 6. Scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. CT, the match will be broadcast live on ESPN+ and transmitted locally in Spanish on TUDN Radio Chicago 1200 AM.
Chicago Fire 2:2 Toronto FC
TOR – Altidore (11) (Delgado 7) 59’
CHI – Katai (5) (Frankowski 9) 68’
CHI – Herbers (3) (Gaitán 12) 77’
TOR – Gonzalez (1) (Pozuelo 12) 80’
TOR – Delgado (Caution) 71’
CHI – Gaitán (Caution) 85’
Chicago Fire: GK Kronholm, D Kappelhof, D Schweinsteiger, D Calvo, D Bornstein, M McCarty©, M Bronico (Katai 63’), M Frankowski, M Gaitán, M Sapong (Herbers 64’), F Nikolić
Subs not used: Sánchez, Marcelo, Gutjahr, Azira, Mihailović
Shots: 15 Shots on goal: 7 Fouls: 10 Offsides: 4 Corners: 4
Toronto FC: GK Westberg (Bono 75’), D Mavinga, D Auro, D Morrow, D Gonzalez, M Bradley ©, M Pozuelo, M Osorio, M Delgado, M Endoh (DeLeon 68’), F Altidore (Mullins 64’)
Subs not used: Morgan, Ciman, Benezet, Gallardo
Shots: 11 Shots on goal: 4 Fouls: 9 Offsides: 1 Corners: 6
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistant Referees: Nick Uranga, Cladiu Badea
Fourth Official: Elvis Osmanovic
VAR: Ricardo Salazar