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Preview: Toronto FC welcomes Chicago Fire to BMO Field

The bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference go at it on Saturday evening.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Toronto FC
Jonathan Osorio of Toronto FC battles it out with former Chicago Fire forward Ignacio Aliseda during the last meeting between the two clubs.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC will play host to Xherdan Shaqiri and the Chicago Fire at BMO Field this Saturday evening.

Coming off a 2-1 Tuesday night victory in the Canadian Championship over HFX Wanderers, TFC will hope to grab another win, this time in MLS action.

Bob Bradley made some minor changes to the starting lineup in that contest, giving rare starts to goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, Ifunanyachi Achara, and Jordan Perruzza. Expect that trio to return to the bench as attention shifts back to the league.

Jonathan Osorio has come off the bench to play hero in his last two matches for the Reds. The Canadian international salvaged a draw in Washington D.C. last weekend before scoring a late winner in that last match in Nova Scotia. His return from injury has undoubtedly been massive for head coach Bradley’s side. Against Chicago, the midfielder will likely make his first start since April before he links up with the Canadian men’s national team in the coming days.

Jacob Shaffelburg is also coming back from his own injury. The winger made a substitute appearance in midweek in his home province of Nova Scotia. He will likely be on the bench once more against the Fire as he gets back to full fitness.

With the exception of the youth movement, the story of the season for TFC so far has to be the team’s inability to keep the ball out of their own net. Though they haven’t been routed as of late, not conceding three or more since that match in Queens, the Reds just can’t seem to stay solid at the back for a full 90 minutes.

If TFC allow a goal to the Fire, they will set a new club record with a goal allowed in 22 straight MLS matches. At home, against the only team below them in the Eastern Conference, the Reds can prevent writing some unwanted history and finally put this ugly streak behind them.

If not, the next best thing would of course just be three points in the bag, no matter the scoreline.

The Chicago Fire have been anything but stellar so far this season. Ezra Hendrickson’s men currently sit bottom of the Eastern Conference, one point behind their hosts on Saturday. Though they have a similar goal difference to TFC, the difference lies in the fact that Chicago are satisfactory defensively, but struggle in the attack. The Fire have only scored 11 goals in their opening 13 matches. No team in MLS has scored fewer.

Without a win in their last nine league games, Shaqiri has clearly not been given enough help by his teammates. The Swiss international has three goals and four assists in his first season stateside. No other Chicago player has more than two goals.

Hoping to perhaps provide some more support in the attacking third will be Chicago’s newest designated player, Jairo Torres. The former Atlas FC winger might start his first match for the Fire against TFC, or look to provide a spark as a substitute.

Game notes

  • Toronto FC are undefeated in 13 straight matches against Chicago Fire.
  • Toronto FC have kept one clean sheet in their past 43 games in MLS.

Predicted lineups

Toronto FC: Bono; Petrasso, Salcedo, MacNaughton, Thompson; Priso, Bradley, Osorio; Nelson, Jimenez, Akinola

Chicago Fire: Slonina; M. Navarro, Pineda, Omsberg, Sekulic; Gimenez, F. Navarro; Torres, Shaqiri, Mueller; Przybylko

Match details

Opponent: Chicago Fire

Kickoff time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Watch: TSN

Stadium: BMO Field, Toronto, On.