Toronto FC struck first and struck twice on goals from Joao Plata and Maicon Santors. The Chicago Fire would not go gently into that good night as Marco Pappa scored a free kick goal that swung the momentum in the Fire’s direction. Later, Orr Barouch scored his first MLS goal to complete the comeback and earn the Fire a 2-2 draw on Saturday night in Toronto at BMO Field. The Fire extended their unbeaten run to four games and moved to 1-3-5 with eight points on the season. Chicago might have found a permanent answer in the midfield and Carlos de los Cobos might have been given the perfect cover to bring back Sean Johnson into the fold. All this and more after da break.
We start with the ugly because it was just so ugly. Just two minutes into the second half, Macion Santos sent in a long-distance shot at Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway. Conway stopped the ball originally but it bounced off him and went into the net. The ball was wet and Santos has some of the strongest shot power in Major League Soccer but these are the kind of shots that need to be stopped. I would like to put Joao Plata's goal in the 9th minute of the game in the simply 'bad' category but Jalil Anibaba really got schooled on this play. Toronto FC midfielder Jacob Peterson received the ball off a goal kick and moved into the center of the field. Even though the entire back line was there to control Peterson, Anibaba went to cover him for a second. In that moment, Peterson passed the ball to Plata who suddenly had a large amount of space to operate with. Anibaba traced back but Plata zagged right as Anibaba zagged left. Anibaba pointed at Yamith Cuesta to cover Plata at the last second and maybe Cuesta could have marked him better but Anibaba created the whole mess in the first place. Anibaba yelling at Cuesta after the fact was very ugly.
Chicago did not convert any corner kicks tonight. They are now right around 0 for 50 on the season in corner kick conversion. Gaston Puerari and Dominic Oduro are too similar of players for the team's own good. Their individual hustle is very positive and they both track down balls no one else would. However, they sometimes trip up on each other going after the same ball and they both have poor finishing. Oduro is the best option the team has at RM with Patrick Nyarko out due to concussion symptoms but I'd like to see Oduro and Puerari on the field together as little as possible if Nyarko returns okay.
To advance this theory, the team started to look dangerous as soon as Puerari was subbed off in the 58th minute with Orr Barouch taking Puerari's place. Barouch was solidly in the 'good' column. His movement resulted in the 63rd minute free kick goal Marco Pappa scored. Barouch later claimed his first Major League Soccer goal in the 76th minute after he collected a cross from Corben Bone and knocked the ball into an empty net. This really was Bone's game as he did 90% of the work setting up Barouch's goal. Bone found himself in the box being guarded one v. one. Instead of passing the ball in the general direction of teammates, he cut back towards the goal and crossed the ball to a waiting Barouch. Bone also setup a through ball to Daniel Paladini in the 83rd minute that created a one-on-one chance for Paladini with Toronto goalie Stefan Frei. Only by Frei's fast reactions did Paladini not score and Toronto preserved their one point draw.
The big message of this game is that this Chicago Fire team does not give up. If last year's team was famous for giving up late goals, this team is becoming known for getting those last minute goals for themselves. It's hard to list Carlos de los Cobos as good, bad, or ugly because there are a couple of different ways to evaluate his moves. He deserves credit for substituting Orr Barouch in as Barouch was the spark plug that started the comeback. However, I think de los Cobos also deserves some blame for going with a 4-1-4-1 over a 4-4-2 against a fatigued Toronto FC squad. The team switched to a 4-4-2 when Barouch came in only after the Fire were already down 2-0. Even when it was obvious all the momentum was going Chicago's way, de los Cobos made two substitutions that were entirely time wasters: Baggio Husidic on for Diego Chaves in the 90th minute and Bratislav Ristic on for Dominic Oduro in the 92nd+ minute. I agree with the old adage, win at home, tie on the road but to bunker down after you just beat back a team that was bunkering down themselves? That's a definite sign of someone trying to protect their job if you ask me.
Corben Bone has improved with every game and this was a breakout. Between formation changes and injuries to Logan Pause and Mike Videira, it's easy to forget where Bone fits on a roster with full health. In the 4-1-4-1 or the 4-4-2, Logan Pause plays a DM and Bone has been playing the central midfield spot in front of the DM. Videira was on his way to the bench before he got injured. I think Corben Bone currently has a starting spot of the roster regardless of who comes back and when. It's frustrating to see the team drop points to poor teams like Toronto but the lineup solidifies itself more everyday. Chicago will look to finally crack a win for the first time since March 26th when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union on Saturday, May 21.
Chicago Fire: Jon Conway; Jalil Anibaba, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares; Daniel Paladini; Dominic Oduro (Bratislav Ristic 92+'), Gaston Puerari (Orr Barouch 58'), Corben Bone, Marco Pappa ©; Diego Chaves (Baggio Husidic 90')
Toronto FC: Stefan Frei; Richard Eckersley, Adrian Cann, Dicoy Williams, Dan Gargan; Julian De Guzman, Jacob Peterson, Tony Tchani; Joao Plata (Alen Stevanovic 61'), Maicon Santos © (Javier Martina 84'), Nick Soolsma (Matt Gold 87')
TOR - Joao Plata (Jacob Peterson) 9'
TOR - Maicon Santos (Joao Plata) 47'
CHI - Marco Pappa (unassisted) 63'
CHI - Orr Barouch (Corben Bone) 76'
CHI - Gonzalo Segares (caution; reckless foul) 19'
TOR - Julian De Guzman (caution; reckless tackle) 25'
CHI - Daniel Paladini (caution; dissent) 28'
Referee: Elias Bazakos
Referee's Assistants: Hector Vergara, Corey Parker
4th Referee: Edvin Jurisevic