Toronto 4, Chicago 1: A Look Back

TorontoFCCelebrates (Reuters)

By KURTIS LARSON

What's better than dismantling a conference rival in front of your home supporters for a 4-1 win? If you are Toronto FC, the fact that three players other than Dwayne De Rosario scored goals.

Toronto FC remained perfect at home with the story being Chad Barrett's ability to finally have the breakout performance he's been looking for since his arrival from the Fire in 2008. The forward's tireless work ethic remains the same but his ability to finish and sustain confidence in front of goal has been questioned in recent memory. The 25-year-old put those claims to rest taking his chances and putting the game out of reach at 4-1 in the 66th and 69th minutes.

"Everything else has been going pretty good and I'm pretty happy with my other play and overall strength," Barrett said. "It was all about putting some goals away and scoring two goals will help that confidence."

Both teams struggled through the opening 20 minutes failing to string together passes and present any real scoring threats. The conditions of the game, including gusty winds and steady rainfall, took away Chicago's target play making it difficult to find loan target man Brian McBride and play off the former U.S. international. Regardless of the poor play, TFC managed to break through  midway through the first-half when Nick Labrocca scored a goal in the 24th minute that will undoubtedly be credited to the conditions.

On the opposite side of things, the conditions presented Chicago an early second-half goal when Logan Pause struck a wonder goal from range. Pause received and turned with the ball 30 yards from goal, unleashing a screamer that Stefan Frei had no chance on. The wind-aided, sure-bet goal of the year candidate saw the the Fire briefly back in it for the time being.

"Sometimes playing with the wind it's difficult to control the game and the ball," Preki said. "Chicago made it a little bit difficult for us by dropping in their half and we didn't move the ball as well as we can. They frustrated us for a while before we got one of those miracle, lucky goals."

What will surely have fans in Toronto talking this week is the performance of half-time substitute O'Brian White. White and Barrett interacted well together on TFC's third goal when, after beating Chicago's Wilman Conde, White unselfishly slid a square pass to Barrett for a tap in. It looks like the pair might be developing a dangerous relationship that could see De Rosario play more of a withdrawn playmaking role for TFC.

For Chicago it was a tale of disorganization and complacency. Holding TFC to one goal in a difficult first-half should have been viewed as a small victory as the Fire would come out with a strong wind advantage in the second half. However, in pushing for an equalizer, the Fire were exposed at the back all to often when TFC's White and Barrett tested the pace of Wilman Conde and C.J. Brown. Many of Toronto's second-half chances were a result of man advantages in getting behind the Fire's back four.

TFC's ability to keep the ball and string passes together was something Chicago was missing throughout the game. All three of Toronto's second-half goals came from midfield buildups that were orchestrated by quick, cutting passes and the ability to possess the ball on the ground.

"I told the group at half-time that it's probably going to be easier for us to move the ball and put the ball on the ground," Preki said. "Sometimes when the wind is blowing in your face it's easier to play. We wanted to play the ball on the ground as much as we could."

Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos will get back to the practice pitch as soon as he can to iron out some formation issues that might be to blame. Luckily for the Fire, some upcoming friendlies against Paris St. Germain and A.C. Milan at the end of May might be an opportunity to work out the kinks in a squad that has earned just eight points out of a possible 21. With players like Justin Mapp and Collins John not having the kind of impact Chicago had hoped for, the break might be just what's needed.

For Toronto FC, securing three home points was paramount heading into a road spell that will see them make cross-continent flights three times over the next three weeks. TFC face the Montreal Impact in its second of four Canadian Cup games Wednesday before heading to the The Home Depot Center next weekend to face the unbeaten Galaxy. The Fire head to Kansas City to face a slumping Wizards side that will be hungry to get back on track following defeats at Houston and D.C.

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26 Responses to Toronto 4, Chicago 1: A Look Back

  1. Chicago - Scott says:

    This was a terrible game for us. One forward up top is not working. We need a DP… QUICK.

  2. “took away Chicago’s target play making it difficult to find loan target man Brian McBride”

    McBride is not on loan. He is a member of the Fire and this stinking game has me convinced we are a mid-table team.

  3. scott says:

    i think he meant “lone”

  4. Fire says:

    Fire can’t be happy with that performance. McBride is not quality unless he has service and a strike partner

  5. TORONTO says:

    Chances of TFC being in the cup final at home…man that stadium would be nuts!

  6. Sergio of SF says:

    The weather certainly impacted this game.

  7. I know. I’m just being bitter.

  8. elopingcamel says:

    Can’t say I’m a fan of TFC at all, but I would love for them to play in the MLS Cup final at home in front of their fans. That really would be sweet.

  9. TORONTO says:

    You know they would show up rain, shine, snow, or gale force winds as well

  10. Pablo Chicago says:

    “With players like Justin Mapp and Collins John not having the kind of impact Chicago had hoped for…”

    Really? That’s all you’ve got? Mapp has fallen below expectations for years, why should this season be any different?

    John hurt his back and was doubtful for this match.

    If you want to talk about players not having the impact Chicago hoped for, how about the 2 guys dlC brought with him, Martinez and Umanzor. Neither has proved they belong in this league.

  11. McBride says:

    John has no idea how to play in this system or league.

  12. Will says:

    there was some truly terrible goalkeeping in the mls this past week. Coundoul, Hesmer and Dykstra all let in howlers, granted Dykstra has the wind excuse…still bad though

  13. Novak says:

    Seitz is always good for a laugh too

  14. Ed says:

    Barret couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn in Chicago now he’s freaking Wayne Rooney, go figure. Hate to admit it but I’m beginning to miss Hamlett. DLC has brought in crap players and his system isn’t producing results. I know it’s early into the season and injuries to key players have slowed the team down. But I can’t think of a single game were the Fire looked truly dangerous in attack.

  15. Will says:

    It’s absurdly early to talk about Toronto in the final. I’d be thrilled with a trip to the playoffs.

  16. Second City says:

    I’ve been consistently hard on our Fire, since the beginning of this season, so I’ll refrain from echo’ing too much in this thread.

    I got hammered for it on here for supporting Dennis Hamlett after his departure and at the beginning of the season but when you replace a Manager, I would hope you have the expectations of improvement and there has been anything but.

    Fact is, Chicago is extremely average and until a quality play-maker (that isn’t 50 yrs old) and a dependable GK is brought in, these are the results we can expect throughout the season.

    (For the record: I want no part of Blanco returning.)

  17. TORONTO says:

    Blanco is good enough to play in the world cup but not good enough for Chicago?

  18. nate says:

    The fire’s defensive play on Saturday was about as good as the proofreading on this site.

  19. GJJ says:

    Amen, brother. I like Krol and Husidic though. Timmy Ward seems like a shell of his former self since he broke his leg last year. I am hoping DLC is a one season coach.

  20. nate says:

    Why stop there? I can think of several more. Even guys that I know are quality, like Conde, have looked miserable out there this season.

  21. Martin says:

    You sure you wouldn’t take Blanco as one of those half season DP deals?

  22. Second City says:

    @ TORONTO/MARTIN

    Yes, you read correctly.

  23. tfcfan says:

    i know…. Toronto scored two flukes on him

  24. alex says:

    Man, just watching from the stands, I can tell you the conditions out there were simply putrid.

    You could just tell with Chicago there were some guys out there who were slowed by the weather and others who made the most of it.

    I thought Preki out maneuvered Carlos de los Cobos with some shrewd tactics in the second half but everything that happened in the first half was a throw away (neither team did much).

    Don’t be fooled by Barrett, real improvement for him is putting together a very solid string of games. Experience says he’ll go AWOL for the next month and miss some sitters.

  25. Chicago - Scott says:

    hopefully we will get an answer after the world cup..

  26. Frustrated Fire Fan says:

    Dykstra can’t use the wind as an excuse for being out of position most of the game or for his bad decision making of launching the ball on goal kicks rather than keeeping it on the ground to combat the wind. Hell, CJ didn’t even want to look at him after the 3rd goal and he about took out Conde when Conde called him off a ball in the 90+ minute. The kid’s is far from being ready to be on the first team. This is going to be a long miserable season with him in goal.