Toronto FC Draw Chicago Fire, Remain Unbeaten
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Toronto--- It was a bitter-sweet afternoon for Toronto FC on Saturday as remained unbeaten in MLS this season after playing the Chicago Fire to a 2-2 draw, but it was a game that they were more than capable of winning.
Toronto had come into this game looking to carry over the momentum from last week and continue their incredible start to the season. After a disappointing CONCACAF Champions League, it looked as though this team would have to battle each game to make it to the playoffs, but they’ve played quite well this season and have showcased why they were MLS champions two years ago and among the top teams in the league.
Last week, Toronto’s new designated player signing Alejandro Pozuelo made a statement with two highlight reel goals and an assist in his MLS debut, that led to him receiving a well-deserved standing ovation from the fans at BMO Field.
This game marked the Toronto FC debut for Richie Laryea, who signed with the club on March 21st. after previously playing the past two seasons with Orlando City. The 24-year old started at right-back in a defensive line with Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, and Justin Morrow. Coach Greg Vanney kept the rest of the starting-XI and formation relatively the same as last week’s game; Michael Bradley and Marky Delgado in the central midfield positions, Jonathan Osorio and Nick DeLeon on the wings, Alejandro Pozuelo in the central attacking midfield role, and Jozy Altidore up-top playing as the lone striker. Laryea almost scored early on in his debut in the ninth minute after some creative passing from Toronto’s midfield allowed him to get a shot, but it deflected for a Toronto corner-kick.
Toronto were the more aggressive team early in the first-half; they maintained possession in Chicago’s side of the pitch for the majority of the first-half and had more scoring opportunities as a result of their quick ball movement and crosses.
Toronto FC’s hard work paid off in the 31st minute when Altidore headed the ball past Chicago goalkeeper David Ousted following a perfectly placed cross from Pozuelo. With the assist, Pozuelo now has two assists in two-games, which is a great sign for the team because he’s had an immediate impact for his new club.
Toronto FC had a perfect half up until stoppage time, when C.J Sapong was able to find an opening through Toronto’s defense and chip the ball over goalkeeper Alex Bono to tie the game 1-1 and provide some momentum for Chicago as the whistle sounded for halftime.
Toronto FC had a scoring opportunity early in the second-half when Altidore received the ball in a similar play as his first-half goal however this time, Ousted was able to stop Altidore’s header to keep the score 1-1. Ousted’s save ended up being significant for Chicago because they would take the 2-1 lead after Aleksandar Katai crossed the ball to Nemanja Nikolic, who was able to strike the past Bono to give his team the lead for the first time in the game.
Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio tied the game in the 76th minute, when he headed the ball past Ousted following a great cross from Altidore. Toronto had their best scoring opportunities from crosses in this game, so it was only a matter of time before they'd capitalize.
After the game, coach Greg Vanney, captain Michael Bradley, and Drew Moor spoke highly of Laryea for his great play in Saturday's game and for comfortably stepping into the right-back position. Even though Laryea has mostly played center midfield, he played great in his first TFC start and didn't look like he was out of his element at right-back.
Picture and Video Credit: Toronto FC