This season has not started as well as Toronto FC would have liked. It’s not been a disaster and no one should be panicking, but with the talent in the Reds’ squad everyone would like to be a little better off than ninth in the Eastern Conference, even at this early stage.
There are a number of things Toronto need to do to get back on track, but one of the most fundamental hallmarks of a successful team is a strong record at home. TFC have played reasonably well, for the most part, in both of their games at BMO Field so far this season but have just two points to show for it. On Friday, they have an opportunity to begin to rectify that.
It will not be easy against the Chicago Fire, who are looking for their first win on the road in their third game away from Toyota Park but are a significantly different proposition this year compared to last (and the two before that). World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger headlined a very busy winter that also saw Nemanja Nikolic (four goals already) and Dax McCarty arrive in Illinois.
Chicago come into this game on the back of consecutive home wins over Columbus and New England, and Schweinsteiger has netted two goals in his first three games.
Toronto remain without Drew Moor, Jason Hernandez and Chris Mavinga, and are likely to stick with the defensive unit they deployed in Columbus despite the 2-1 loss. Clint Irwin is also out and Ashtone Morgan is unlikely to feature having only returned to full training after foot surgery this week.
John Goossens is a long-term absentee for Chicago, while David Accam, Luis Solignac and Matt Polster are all questionable. Accam and Solignac are starters when fit.
Toronto spend a lot of time trying to create space in the centre of the pitch while their opponents stuff it to deny their most dangerous players space, but on this occasion TFC may voluntarily focus their attacks down the wing. Right-back Michael Harrington is regarded as something of a weak link in the Fire defence and it will be interesting to see if the speedy, attack-minded Raheem Edwards can ask a few questions of him.
Toronto (3-4-1-2): Bono; Zavaleta, Hagglund, Morrow; Beitashour, Delgado, Bradley, Edwards; Vazquez; Altidore, Giovinco.
Chicago (4-3-3): Bava; Harrington, Kappelhof, Meira, Vincent; Schweinsteiger, Juninho, McCarty; Solignac, Nikolic, De Leeuw.
How to watch
Venue: BMO Field
Kick-off: 7.30pm ET
SB Nation opposition blog: Hot Time In Old Town
TV: TSN 4 (Toronto), COZI TV (Chicago)
Stream: TSN Go, MLS Live (blackouts apply)
Radio: TSN 1050