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Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Playoffs, playoffs? Anyone, anyone?

Is Toronto FC beginning their annual trudge to another playoff-less end or will they somehow manage to scrape their way in? First up is the Chicago Fire. Are you fired up?

Hey guys - I'm back! Problems solved!
Hey guys - I'm back! Problems solved!
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Is it too late to take the season off and just look around and enjoy life with some other team? It is? Damn, no online campaign to save us, the beleaguered fans of Toronto FC from yet another disappointing season.  All hope isn't completely lost but it's getting to the point where Toronto's shot at the playoffs is going to be true in a mathematical sense only.

Of course there's been more drama this week in TFC with outgoing MLSE head honcho Tim Leiweke saying a number of interesting things to a business class at Ryerson Univeristy - among them were the assertions that (daily less lamented) injured striker Jermain Defoe won't be back, more DPs are coming in the off season and that new coach Greg Vanney and midfielder Michael Bradley are the only members of the team that are still willing to fight for this season.  Boy these next few months are going to be super fun aren't they?

So first up on the list is the Chicago Fire - you remember them, that team we played a few weeks back that managed to make TFC look ordinary - well, more ordinary than they should have.  A team that hasn't been exactly lighting the league on fire but one that possesses two ex-Red strikers in Quincy Amarikwa and Robert Earnshaw who both (shocking no one) scored and and set TFC on their current path.  Yay... Did I mention that Toronto have never won a game at Toyota Park?  The tiny little silver lining is that they have managed four draws and as that is Chicago's bread and butter this year....what, we need something to cling to!

Toronto is still plagued by injuries as captain Steven Caldwell is still out for at least another week, Jonathan Osorio is also out and well, we all know about Defoe.  Bradley Orr is also hurt but apparently is going to play today, which is good because on top of the injuries Toronto has Doneil Henry suspended. The good news (I swear there's good news) is that Justin Morrow has been deemed healthy and tapped to play today.  Morrow's presence - almost as much as Caldwell's - has been sorely missing these past few games and will hopefully be a plug in the leaking dam that is TFC's defence of late, whether he plays on the left or in the middle is still up in the air.

This likely won't be a game filled with goals; not only is Chicago not exactly a high scoring team but historically this fixture (away to Chicago) has resulted in just over two goals a game for both teams combined.  Of course it would be great to see Gilberto and Luke Moore reignite the partnership that had been ticking along when things were looking good and third place was our comfy home in the standings.  With no one else seeming to be a viable option it is imperative that one or both of them start scoring again if Toronto is to have any hope at salvaging this season.

And what of Michael Bradley? As the captain while Caldwell is out it's his job to lead this team - but is he trying to be the team?  Last weekend saw Bradley trying to do it all for large chunks of the game and well, failing for the most part.  It was less than enjoyable to watch him ignore options (and teammates) in favour of low potential shots or keeping the ball until dispossessed.  Whether he's playing with Kyle Bekker or Dwayne De Rosario today (Collen Warner is also one of the wounded), there needs to better organisation and less 'put the team on my back' play from Bradley.

Chicago of course has Amarikwa and Earnshaw as their main threats up top; especially since Mike Magee is now out for the season.  Last game both former Reds scored, pretty much from a criminal lack of marking on the part of Toronto's defence.  I mean Earnshaw scored on a header! A header!  They've also got former Impact player Sanna Nyassi who they acquired earlier in the summer who's added another dimension to their attack.

Toronto can use their speed on the wings in Dominic Oduro, Jackson and Dan Lovitz along with Gilberto to pressure the Fire defence who can be caught out and aren't exactly the fleetest of foot.  The Reds are likely best served to get numbers in and scrap it out around the box than try distance shots to try and break down Sean Johnson in net.

Hopefully having a full week of training with new bench boss Vanney will have a positive effect on the team's play. The last two games were very much react, react, try to hang on and then fall apart kind of affairs. There should be a better showing from them today because even with the myriad problems and missing players this team should be playing better and well, they have to if they're going to salvage this season.  Come On You Reds.