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Match preview and predicted starting XI: Toronto FC at Chicago Fire

With only two more MLS matches to play, the stakes are raised as two teams in the playoff mix battle it out

MLS: Chicago Fire at Toronto FC
Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (31) speaks with Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) following the conclusion of their match at BMO Field.
(Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports)

TORONTO, Ont. — With only two matches remaining, Toronto FC head to Seat Geek Stadium to take on the eighth-place Chicago Fire, whose 2019 season is hanging on by a thread.

Bastian Schweinsteiger’s squad has been one of the better teams in MLS over the past two months, but they currently sit on the outside of the playoff-picture, looking in. They trail the New England Revolution by four points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while Toronto FC finds themselves six points clear of Chicago in sixth.

A demoralizing 0-0 tie to MLS-bottom feeders FC Cincinnati last week saw Chicago drop two crucial points, putting their post-season hopes in the hands of New England, who need to get past either New York City FC or Atlanta United in their final two matches to clinch a playoff berth. If they don’t, Chicago can win out against Toronto today and Orlando next week to sneak back into the dance.

TFC, meanwhile, will also have to bounce back after a demoralizing loss: a midweek a penalty shootout defeat in the Voyageurs Cup final against the Montreal Impact. They’ll look to pick up where they left off in the league, as the Reds haven’t lost an MLS match since Aug. 3 against the New York Red Bulls.

While they’ve already clinched a playoff spot, the Reds can still move up in the standings, potentially earning a first-round MLS Cup home game. A close eye will be kept on the match between NYRB and D.C. United, as a tie in that fixture benefits Toronto the most.

Chicago and Toronto played to a 2-2 draw back in April at BMO Field — a game which Toronto thoroughly dominated in possession (72 per cent to 28), however, the Fire managed to squeak away with a tie.

One point apiece is something that the Reds don’t want to see in their match on Sunday. A recent trend has started to develop under coach Greg Vanney’s side where the team plays well enough to earn three points, but is forced to settle for just one. It’s nice that the Reds are playing an appealing style of soccer, but at this point in the season, TFC needs results.

So, with so much on the line, what happens today? Do the Reds continue their strong stretch of play in MLS and earn three points in Chicago? Or can the Fire keep their flame burning?

Predicted Starting XI

Despite an extremely congested September, Toronto FC enter Sunday’s final match of the month boasting a healthy roster. The only question mark heading into Chicago was the health of winger Nicolas Benezet. Coach Greg Vanney has spoken for about a week now saying that he believes Benezet could play if the Reds needed him. They opted to not include the French attacker in their 18 Wednesday night against Montreal, so all signs point to TFC’s No. 7 getting his feet back under him against the Fire. Speaking of Fire, Tsubasa Endoh’s scorching-hot run of play also sees him earn a spot in the Starting XI this week, displacing TAM signing Erickson Gallardo.

Have your say. Is this the XI that TFC starts?

Toronto FC’s Predicted Starting XI vs. Chicago Fire Sept. 29
Jeffrey P. Nesker/Waking the Red

How to Watch

This one is televised, folks.

Who: Toronto FC (12-10-10) at Chicago Fire (9-12-11)
When: 5:00 PM ET
Where: SeatGeek Stadium, IL
Radio: TSN 1050