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FT: Toronto FC 3-0 Chicago Fire — Second half explosion lifts TFC

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TFC’s attack is just too hot for the Fire to handle.

Tagwa Moyo // Waking the Red

Four in a row baby! The Reds pick up three beautiful MLS points on the back of an excellent second-half performance against the Chicago Fire. Toronto FC found goals from Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Osorio, and Sebastian Giovinco, although all three required plenty of solid team attacking play to happen. The difference in TFC’s game when Altidore and Victor Vazquez are in the lineup is night and day; the Reds were much more confident and dangerous in attack.

Sebastian Giovinco seemed to be all over the field as well, launching a number of attacking moves and getting involved everywhere. The yellow card he picked up was a bit of a dumb one, but other than that a pretty excellent night for the Italian in more of a creative role than purely finishing — although he did bag one of his own.

It seemed pretty much every TFC player had a strong night — Marky Delgado, Chris Mavinga, Eriq Zavaleta (who was excellent in passing out of the back). A very positive result from a very positive all-around performance, and the mood has to be lifting in the Reds’ dressing room.

This is a great bit of momentum to be building up before the Canadian Championship final, and a few crucial MLS games in August.

89’ Toronto FC 3-0 Chicago Fire — There’s one for Seba! Just moments after he hits the crossbar and kicks an advertising board in frustration, Giovinco takes a shot that deflects off a defender and into the back of the net. A fantastic second half performance from TFC here.

79’ — Jozy Altidore comes off to raucous applause, and Ayo Akinola comes in to take his place and hopefully see this one out.

72’ Toronto FC 2-0 Chicago Fire — OSO! What a goal! It’s all started with a perfect pass rolled down the touchline by Marky Delgado. Vazquez sends it over the top to Seba at the right post, and Giovinco knocks it across goal for Osorio, who comes sliding in to score his 14th of the season.

63’ — Michael Bradley picks up a yellow card as he takes down Diego Campos on the run. Tempers flared up a bit just after, and van der Wiel had to come settle things down and pull the captain away.

55’ Toronto FC 1-0 Chicago Fire — Jozy! The big man hammers it home after the ball bounces around in the six-yard box. Play started off with Seba nutmegging poor Nico Hasler, but it looked like the play was dead after Justin Morrow and Victor Vazquez missed their shots.

46’ — Ashtone Morgan comes off at halftime, to be replaced by Marky Delgado. This may mean a switch to four at the back for TFC, with van der Wiel going to right back.

HT — The whistle goes, with Giovinco on the floor holding his head. Looked like he got an arm to the face or neck while contesting a ball. Anyway, TFC go into the break scoreless, but they’ve certainly had chances. Could start to open up a bit in the second half, because it’s been pretty sloppy at times.

41’ — Seba picks up a yellow card for dissent as he kicks the ball into the stands in frustration after being called for a foul.

20’ — Another very close one for Toronto FC as Giovinco dances around a crowd and sends in a great through ball for Jonathan Osorio, whose chipped cross is just a little too high for Justin Morrow to head it goalward.

12’ — TFC have had a number of decent chances; Raheem Edwards pretty much saved a goal just now by cutting out a pass at the last minute. It feels like a goal is coming for the Reds.

1’ — Kickoff! The Reds will play toward the north end in the first half.

For the first time in 2018, we’re able to say that Toronto FC have won three consecutive games. Granted, two of them were against USL opposition, but still — the Reds have strung some victories together. Now, they’ll look to add another three precious MLS points against the Chicago Fire.

Now that players are returning from injury, the Reds are starting to get back up to speed and the lineup is starting to take a slightly more consistent shape. The reformed partnership of Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore at the top is an enormous boost to TFC’s attack, and the return of Chris Mavinga injects a ton of athleticism to the back three.

The Reds have a good chance here to do some extra damage to a team they’re chasing in the standings. Chicago, like Toronto, are chasing that sixth playoff spot. They’re currently eighth, with 23 points (four ahead of TFC). The Fire have lost four straight MLS games, including last weekend against TFC.

Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai will be leading the line offensively for Chicago, with help from the GTA’s own Raheem Edwards. The former TFC winger played well for the Fire last weekend, assisting on Nikolic’s goal. This time, we could see another former Red take the field in Nico Hasler, who didn’t make the bench last weekend.

This stretch of games could be a turning point in TFC’s season, but they need to bank MLS wins. Tonight is a great chance for that.

Team news: injuries & suspensions

Toronto FC: The MLS website lists only Drew Moor and Auro as injured at this point. Moor may be close to a return, having participated in some individual training this week, but likely won’t be involved for a couple more games. Victor Vazquez may or may not be ready to start again, but he should at least be on the bench.

Chicago Fire: Missing tonight will be midfielders Djordje Mihailovic (ACL) and Dax McCarty (hamstring), forward Michael De Leeuw (ACL), defender Matt Polster (MCL), and backup goalkeeper Patrick McLain (hamstring). Defender Grant Lillard (quad) is also listed as questionable.

How to watch

Match date/time: Saturday, July 28, 7 p.m.
TV channel: TSN 4 (Canada)
Live stream: TSN GO (Canada), ESPN+ (USA)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto)