MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 2-2 Chicago Fire
One game, 100 words (or less): A strong start for Toronto quickly faded into a game of few chances, one that allowed the visiting Fire to stay close to their favored hosts. With second half equalizers from former Reds Robert Earnshaw and Quincy Amarikwa, Chicago was able to move on from last week’s disastrous results, scavenging a well-earned point on the road with its 2-2 draw.
Toronto FC: Bakary Soumaré (o.g. 3'), Gilberto (79')
Chicago: Robert Earnshaw (70'), Quincy Amarikwa (90')
Three moments that mattered
3' - Wrong way, Bakary - Toronto came out crisp, its quick passing matching the precise movement that left Chicago chasing the game. In the third minute, that passing put Justin Morrow behind the defense on the left flank, where a cross toward the edge of the six was misplayed by Bakary Soumaré. After two minute, Chicago looked destined for another disappointing result.
70' - What about Bob - Robert Earnshaw’s first appearance of the season happened to come against his old team, with Chicago’s newest attacker looking to make an an instant on his Fire debut. Minutes after entering the game, the former Red did just that, cutting across goal at the edge of the six to mean a Grant Ward cross. His finish put his team in position to steal an unlikely result.
90' - Toronto blows it - When Gilberto restored Toronto’s lead in the 79th minute, sanity seemed to be restored, though given how little the Reds had produced going forward (held to two shots on target all day), the 2-1 scoreline was a fortunate one.
In the 90th minute, Quincy Amarikwa snatched that fortune and turned it into failure, converting after a Lovel Palmer cross (and failed Earnshaw bicycle kick) found him at the far post. Forgotten, Amarikwa one-timed his right-footer into the top of Joe Bendik’s net, giving Chicago the 2-2 result.
Toronto FC: Joe Bendik; Mark Bloom, Steven Caldwell (Doneil Henry 22'), Nick Hagglund, Justin Morrow (Jackson 58'); Dominic Oduro, Michael Bradley, Collen Warner, Jonathan Osorio; Gilberto, Jermain Defoe (Luke Moore 77')
Chicago: Sean Johnson; Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larenotwicz, Bakary Soumaré, Gonzalo Segares; Sanna Nyassi (Robert Earnshaw 65'), Razvan Cocis, Matt Watson, Alex; Harry Shipp (Grant Ward 58'), Quincy Amarikwa
Three lessons going forward
1. No switches to flick in Toronto - The Reds talent gives the impression they’re capable of more; that at some point, something will click, and the team will be able to challenge D.C. United and Sporting KC. Perhaps title ambitions are too much, but certainly the Reds should be distinguishing themselves from the rest of the conference.
Today was a reminder: That may not happen. Just like last week in Kansas City, we saw a Toronto team that, at the opening of the game, looked dangerous. But as the game went on, the team waned. By the end, they were outright vulnerable, part of the reason they’ve been caught by Columbus in the Eastern Conference.
2. Fight left in Chicago - Some have written them off, myself included, but as today showed, Chicago’s still capable of playing spoiler. At this point in their playoff push, they needed three points instead of one, but if you forget about their faint postseason hopes, and today’s result was a good one.
3. Not so healthy defense - Ryan Nelsen has had to mix-and-match for most of the season in defense, but with Mark Bloom and Steven Caldwell coming back into the team today, the back four was as healthy as it’d been in months. By the hour-mark today, though, Nelsen had lost Caldwell and Morrow. he’s back to improvising with his back four.
Where this leaves them:
- Still seven back of D.C. United (for now), Toronto now needs to worry about Columbus, New York, and New England. Missed points at home put their playoff hopes in a new perspective.
- The point lifts Chicago to eighth in the conference, passing Houston while moving within five points of a playoff spot.