Toronto FC get back to MLS play against Chicago Fire

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - APRIL 10: Alex Bono goalkeeper of Toronto dives for the ball during the semifinal second leg match between America and Toronto at Azteca Stadium on April 10, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Luis Licona/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - APRIL 10: Alex Bono goalkeeper of Toronto dives for the ball during the semifinal second leg match between America and Toronto at Azteca Stadium on April 10, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Luis Licona/Getty Images) /

With the Champions League now in the rear view mirror, Toronto FC are back to focusing on MLS action, as they draw 2-2 with the Chicago Fire at BMO Field.

With the dream of Champions League glory gone, Toronto FC can now concentrate on MLS play. More specifically, fighting to get into a playoff position.

A surge from Victor Vazquez and Jonathan Osorio early on was shut down by Bastian Schwiensteiger and Alan Gordon in the second half. A disappointing draw was the end result at BMO Field, but the comeback in MLS play has to start somewhere.

Right as the starting sheet came out, there was a huge positive. Alex Bono returned between the posts and the usual starting suspects went right back into place. However, Jozy Altidore was missing from the lineup in this one.

There was a lot of momentum transitioned from the Champions League loss into this fixture, especially early on. A peach of a ball from Auro sent Sebastian Giovinco flying down the wing. The Atomic Ant squared for Osoiro and it was easy as that for the 1-0 lead.

Another play that started from the back found the feet of Giovinco, as he had three players including Nicolas Hasler running with him. Hasler sent a ball in that deflected off some members of the Fire and was then one-timed home by Giovinco.

The craziest call seen in the MLS so far ruled that Hasler was in an offside position before receiving the ball. Maybe an eagle can decipher this one to pin-point accuracy.

It didn’t seem to faze TFC too much, as a lob pass for Vazquez was settled down, and then lobbed by the Spaniard himself right into the Chicago net to double the lead.

Bono’s big highlight came in the 28th minute as the Fire started a counter led by Aleksandar Katai, who found his teammate in Elliot Collier, but the chance was patted down and out by Bono.

Ashtone Morgan got caught up in the feet of scoring threat Nemanja Nikolic, who went down in the box to earn the penalty. Surprisingly, Schweinsteiger went up to take the shot, but Bono was there to simply say no.

All of the thought that the Reds had of victory quickly diminished just as they started to play more defensively. Crosses have been the downfall for Toronto so far in all competitions, and it didn’t stop here as Schweinsteiger connected his head with the ball and it took a couple of deflections before going in.

Chicago simply pressured the back-line of the Reds right into their own box. After a huge goal-line clearance from Bono, yet another cross came in and this time, Gordon came across to head it home right in stoppage time.

Key Stats

Toronto FC

  • 15 shots
  • 4 shots on target
  • 51 percent possession
  • Key Player: Alex Bono

Chicago Fire

  • 17 shots
  • 8 shots on target
  • 7 corners
  • Key Player: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Stats to Keep an Eye on (WhoScored)

  • The heat maps told the story here. TFC tried scoring from the left, right and down the middle very evenly. However, the Fire simply went 82 percent down the middle and forced the TFC back-line into close to 60 percent of the high quality chances from Chicago right in the 18-yard box.
  • No Altidore had a huge effect here. The American’s previous two contests gave the rest of the squad above seven shots on target. It wasn’t the case in this fixture, as Osorio finished with the team-high two shots on target.
  • The defence had a day to forget, especially Morgan. The full-back finished with a 5.78 rating. Gregory van der Wiel finished with seven clearances, which suggests how often the Fire were right near the Toronto goal.
  • Biggest positive was Bono. The last few matches in MLS resulted in ratings of 6 or below. The Syracuse graduate totaled an 8.39 rating, which would have been Man of the Match if it weren’t for Schweinsteiger.

Around the MLS

  • Atlanta United 4-1 Montreal Impact
  • Columbus Crew 2-1 San José
  • Philadelphia 3-2 D.C. United
  • New York Red Bulls 3-2 LA Galaxy
  • New England 1-0 Sporting KC

An updated MLS table can be found here.

What’s next for the Reds?

It’s always best to call things the way they’re seen, but sometimes optimism helps.

More from Toronto FC

There’s nothing huge to complain about from this one. The defence needs to be more aggressive and the Reds need to finish off what could have been an easy victory.

Toronto sit with four points in the MLS table, which has them at last place in the Eastern Conference. However, a win soon can see them jump up three positions with a few points, to chase the Red Bulls for the final wild card  spot.

Maybe it sounds cliché, but TFC have to find their groove domestically. They definitely started to do that in this fixture, and supporters will only continue to hope that they will do that in Philadelphia on May 4.

Next: Sebastian Giovinco’s desire for a new contract is positive

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