The Headliner: A Much Needed Three Points
It is hard to label a game this far from the playoffs as must-win for Toronto FC. In a tight Eastern Conference playoff race, they could lose this game and still easily qualify. However, from a morale and form standpoint, this really does feel like an important match.
The Voyageurs Cup provided a distraction from the fact that Toronto FC has only won once in their last seven MLS matches. That's not good enough, especially considering the fact that only two of those were played away from home.
Today against the last placed team in the league, the Chicago Fire, Toronto FC really need a win. They can flatter the Fire all they want in training and otherwise, but when the opening whistle blows they need to be prepared to bully the Fire all match long.
Toronto, after all, is on the outside looking in of the playoffs as they reach the midway point of the season. Without Michael Bradley, Will Johnson, Clint Irwin points aren't going to be easy to come by for Toronto FC. They need to take opportunities like today if they want to stay afloat.
Jozy Altidore, on the other hand, should be set for a return soon but today seems unlikely. One of the problems in the past with Altidore has been rushing him back from hamstring injury too quickly, and Toronto will not be keen to make the same mistake today. It is far more likely that he gets his minutes on the road next week.
Toronto FC's goal scoring burden, then, will once again fall on Jordan Hamilton and Sebastian Giovinco. The pair seemed to be working together better than ever last week against the Seattle Sounders, and hopefully, this will lead to much-needed goals for Toronto.
Key to the Match: Set the Tone
A big reason why Toronto FC didn't get three points last week against the Sounders is the fact that they could not score early. They had plenty of chances, and good chances at that, but could not put them past Stefan Frei.
Allowing the Sounders to hang around only cost them moments after they did finally find a breakthrough, and resulted in a 1-1 draw when they really should have won. Lesson learned, hopefully.
Today Toronto should look to set the tone early, and force the Fire to come out of their defensive shell with an early goal. If that is the case we may see our first multi-goal Toronto FC game at BMO Field in some time.
Toronto FC: Bono; Morrow, Zavaleta, Moor, Beitashour; Cheyrou, Delgado, Osorio, Endoh; Hamilton, Giovinco
Subs: Roberts, Perquis, Hagglund, Bloom, Williams, Chapman, Babouli
Chicago Fire: Johnson; Vincent, Kappelhof, Campbell, Ramos; Stephans, Thiam, Meira; Goossens, Accam, Igboananike
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto ON
Time: 7:30 PM Eastern
SB Nation Opposition Blog: Hot time in Old Town
Available TV: TSN 4
Available Streaming: TSN Go