Who'd have thought that this guy would be scoring game winners in important games this year? (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
After the rains came down like a monsoon two hours before, skies blued and the weather was perfect- if not a little sticky for kickoff. And that's how it started for the Fire. In the fourth, what turned out to be the best chance at goal in the first half was squandered by the hesitation of new signing Álvaro Fernandez. After getting a cross put at his feet by Gonzalo Segares, he held the ball for four seconds instead of shooting, which most likely cost them a goal.
Only 4 minutes later, Chris Rolfe almost put the Men In Red up for the second week in a row. He just missed chipping the goal keeper, and caused a slight delay while Milos Kocic rolled around on the ground following the play. He had another opportunity in the twenty fourth minute as well, a half volley that floated softly into to the gut of the TFC keeper.
However, all that opening momentum was for naught, and TFC struck first. In the sixteenth minute, Marco Pappa, in a defensive gaffe worthy of the Senegal Men's Olympic Soccer Team, played a ball back and across the path of Ryan Johnson of Toronto. Johnson then proceeded to bury one past Sean Johnson low into the far post. Even after the goal, the Fire kept attacking, although, nothing really came of it. Dominic Oduro missed two sitters from inside six yards. Segares had a shot from 15 that was saved, as was a Rolfe shot on the rebound.
The Reds best bit of self-created offense came within the four minutes of added time in the first half. Luis Silva placed one low towards the far post, but Sean Johnson, in what should be a save of the week nominee, pawed it away on instinct. It struck the inside of the far post before being cleared away, ending the first half.
SECOND HALF SILENCE
The Fire made two halftime subs.. (Well one at the half, the other 5 minutes into the second). Patrick Nyarko came on for Alvaro Fernandez, and Sherjill MacDonald for Dominic Oduro. Sherjill MacDonald and Nyarko failed to connect with both their team and each other for the first 20 minutes of the half. They made bad passes and misread the movements of their team mates, which caused some bad giveaways in midfield. Fortunately for them, TFC couldn't go up 2-0 before they figured things out. By the end of the game, MacDonald and Nyarko were connecting rather well.
SAME DAY REDEMPTION
As bad as his first half was, Marco Pappa’s second half was just as good. He redeemed himself after giving up the bad goal, with TFC giving an assist similarly to how he helped them in the first. A pass from Rolfe towards Nyarko got blocked and was hit onto the heels of Logan Emory (remember that name later). Pappa ran onto it and after deftly waltzing around Milos Kocic, slotted home the equalizer. "The ball came through to me. And the goalie was delayed; I was in the right spot. It’s good when you score but the important thing was that we got three points" Marco said in the locker room after the match. "He had a chance to put the fire up 2-1 in the 71st minute, however after once again rounding the keeper, he placed the ball into the side netting."
THE GAME WINNER
After a foul won by Patrick Nyarko, Pavel Pardo’s cross found the head of Rookie defender Austin Berry, who buried it into the top left corner of the Harlem End. "Austin is so competitive. I think he’s gotten so much better with the ball and his defensive instincts are very good and his ability now on set pieces, he’s so dangerous " said Frank Klopas in the post-game press conference. "A great service by Pavel in the end for him to score a great goal. This kid’s improving with every game."
For the second time in two weeks, Logan Pause was put in on net. And for the second time in two weeks, he didn’t score. He was taken down by Terry Dunfield half a step from the box. In live speed, it looked like a foul and maybe a card, however, upon further review, it was clean as a whistle. "I think it’s just kind of opportunity." Pause spoke in the dressing room after the game. "I’m obviously not known for breaking out of the midfield. Especially knowing that there’s Pavel next to me. It’s part of my game that I’m always trying to grow and improve on, knowing that I have a guy next to me that’s going to sit to make those runs out. It’s just a little unfortunate that I couldn’t even get a shot off this time. But what can you do?"
In the 92th minute, Arne Friedrich found himself in a place where no one thought he’d be; in possession of the ball with 70 yards of space in front of him. So, he started dribbling. "We were one goal up so I expected a little more pressure from the opponent. We had a chance to play 50 passes and there was a big gap and I tried to get it."
ODDS AND ENDS
Álvaro Fernandez was subbed out because he rolled his ankle, according to Frank Klopas at the post-game press conference.
This is the fifth game the Fire have come from behind to win, and the seventh game they have came away with points after allowing in the first goal.
The Fire are 7-2-2 at Toyota Park and undefeated against the Eastern Conference at home.
With his goal tonight Marco Pappa leads the team in goals scored (6). Austin Berry is three behind him with 3 goals.
Toronto FC finished the game with nine men as Logan Emory was sent off with his second caution in the 79th minute. Jeremy Hall left the game with an ankle injury after Paul Mariner used up his three substitutions.