The first game at Toyota Park was a June 11th, 2006 3-3 draw against the New England Revolution. Nate Jaqua and Calen Carr scored for the Fire, while Steve Rolston, Andy Doorman, and Taylor Twellman scored for the Revs.
Thirteen years later, the Fire are set to play in Bridgeview for the last time on Sunday.
The Toyota Park/SeatGeek Stadium saga was a rollercoaster of emotions and fortunes for the club. The stadium saw host to the last trophy the FIre would win, a 3-1 Open Cup final victory over LA, as well as a two year stretch. A six win, 36 point season in 2014 into an eight win, 30 point season in 2015. It’s been home to one of the greatest Fire players in Cuauhtémoc Blanco and one of the worst in Nery Castillo.
I’ve spent a lot of time there, and have learned to love almost everything about it. Even the exposed bleachers on the second level have grown on me over time, and they come with some of the best views of a soccer field I’ve ever seen.
I’m going to miss the place. But it’s time to move on.
Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Toronto FC: 5W-5D-3L, 18 GF / 16 GA, 20 pts out of 39
Toronto qualified for the playoffs last week after drawing 1-1 with Western Conference leaders LAFC in between losing out to Montreal in the two legged final for the Canadian Championship. That win in LA continued their run of eight games unbeaten since their loss against the New York Red Bulls way back on August 3rd. Of those eight games, they’ve won only three of them; two at home to Montreal and Colorado, and one away to Cincinnati.
This seems to be the default lineup, and I don’t see a reason why it should change. It’s been largely successful, and both the defense and attack seem to be stable with it.
Keys To The Match
Contain Jozy: Jozy Altidore is going to find his chances. There’s very little that the Fire can do to stop that. He’s bigger, stronger, and faster than most people defending him. A Jozy goal is almost a given. That being said, the Fire need to find a way to stop him from doing any extra damage. Double-mark him, be aware of the passing lanes to prevent him from getting the ball, foul him if you have to, stop Jozy from making his mark on the game bigger than it has to be.
Convert Chances: The Fire’s biggest weakness this season has been converting quality chances. That was on display once again last week against Cincinnati, where the Fire had numerous dangerous crosses by Przemysław Frankowski cut out by Cincy defenders, or failed to be converted by Fire strikers.
We’ve been saying all year that they had to start scoring, but this is now or never time. If the Fire want to win and keep their playoff hunt alive, the goals have to start coming. Every game, every opportunity.
Don’t Overthink It: Don’t be cute, or force passes into tight spaces, or make things complicated. Simple soccer should be enough to win the day. At home, in the last game at Toyota Geek Stadium Park, with so much emotion and excitement, with the fans at your back, the Fire should have enough to win the game.
How To Watch
I think the Fire are ready for this. This playoff chase is going to the last day.
2-1 Fire. Jozy gets one for Toronto, Niko and Sapong score for the Fire.
How are you feeling about the end of the Bridgeview Era? And do you think the Fire can pull out a win in their home finale? Let us know in the comments below!