TORONTO, Canada—Toronto FC have been building momentum after picking up points in three straight. In the previous two, specifically, the Reds have been knocking on the door but coming up just short of three points. A trip to Chicago is another opportunity for the Reds to pick up three points for the second time under Javier Perez.
Kickoff is at 8:00 PM EST and can be watched on TSN1 and TSN4.
It’s been a busy week around the league and both the Reds and Fire will be approaching Saturday’s matchup with a tired group. Both teams will be entering their third matchup in seven days during this busy stretch. For the Reds, they will continue to be without key players still away at international duty at the Gold Cup and along with the usual absence of long-term injuries, now including Ayo Akinola, Perez may also be without right-back, Auro Jr.. Auro left Wednesday night’s matchup in the 18th minute and heading into the weekend is listed as ‘Questionable’ after it was confirmed that he picked up a contusion. If Auro isn’t healthy to start in Chicago, coupled with the number of first-team players away at the moment, Perez may have to think about tweaking his formation to find the right balance.
For the first time this season, Perez may opt to play all three designated players together. Since his return to the squad, Jozy Altidore has appeared in both matches coming off the bench and has been able to provide a spark to the Reds offence, scoring once, and looking like a threat to score before the Reds equalized through Ralph Priso. With more time on the pitch, Alejandro Pozuelo and Yeferson Soteldo are starting to become more and more comfortable combining with each other. Adding another skilled forward like Altidore to the mix more regularly and playing as close to 90 minutes as possible, should lead the Reds to scoring even more goals.
Saturday night’s matchup between Chicago and Toronto will be seen as a must-win for both sides trying to work their way up the Eastern Conference. Both squads are in similar positions in the league table and both have struggled on the defensive end this season.
Toronto are currently separated by just two points as Chicago and TFC occupy the 12th and 13th spot in the East, respectively. Given their record, it is also unsurprising that both teams also occupy the bottom of the league when it comes to goals conceded as well. Toronto has conceded a league worst 31 goals, while Chicago has conceded 25 goals so far this season, third worst in the league.
Turning to the Reds opponents, Chicago is coming off of a 2-2 draw against D.C. United. Chicago will want to right their mistake from Wednesday night as the Fire conceded two goals in the last six minutes of that matchup and let two points slip away. It was the first time that the Fire have dropped points from a winning position that late since 2019.
Chicago will be without club captain Francisco Calvo who is representing Costa Rica at the Gold Cup. Calvo had started 10 matches for the Fire this season before heading off to international duty. Since Calvo’s departure to the Gold Cup Chicago has switched their formation to play three at the back instead of their usual back four.
On the goalscoring front, the Fire have been able to have contributions from different sources over the last few matches with seven different goalscorers finding the back of the net for the Fire on their last seven goals. Ignacio Aliseda and Luka Stojanovic, lead the Fire with three goals a piece, while Chicago’s number 10, Alvaro Medran leads Chicago with five assists.
The Fire sport a 3-3-3 record playing at the Soldier Field and have fared considerably better at home than on the road, with all three of their wins coming at home. On the other side, Toronto has a 1-6-1 record on the road, earning just four points from a possible 24 while on the road. Of the Reds 31 goals conceded, 25 have come on the road. Since taking over, Perez has played just the one game on the road, a 3-2 victory against the New England Revolution.
This will be the first matchup between the Reds and Chicago since 2019 when the Reds and the Fire faced off twice, with both matches ending in a draw. The two draws took TFC’s unbeaten record against the Fire to 11 matches, where the Reds have picked up eight wins and three draws.
The Reds have looked more assured of their style of play as of late, and have played with confidence that this squad has been lacking for much of the year. A positive result on the road will help the club feel even more confident heading into August.
Opponent: Chicago Fire
Kick-off: 8 PM EST
Stadium: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
Watch: TSN1, TSN4