August 4, 2012
Fire rally past Toronto, 2-1
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill.—The Chicago Fire scored twice in the second half to snatch a 2-1 comeback win over Toronto FC Saturday night at Toyota Park.
|Austin Berry’s 84th-minute header lifted the Fire over Toronto FC Saturday night at Toyota Park.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Marco Pappa, whose aimless backpass opened the door for Ryan Johnson to stake the Reds to a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute, atoned for the error in the 64th, latching onto the loose ball after an attempted clearance and slipping the game-tying shot between the right post and TFC defender Richard Eckersley.
Twenty minutes later, rookie center back Austin Berry clinched the win with a forceful header off Pavel Pardo’s 30-yard free kick.
The heavy weather that battered Chicagoland earlier in the afternoon had moved on by kickoff, leaving the temperature a pleasant 74 degrees and the field fast and slick. The Fire dominated possession from the early going and put Toronto netminder Milos Kocic under steady pressure. In just the eighth minute, Chris Rolfe took a pass from Dominic Oduro, split two defenders and charged in alone on the Reds’ keeper, who blocked the shot but ended up with a bloody nose and cleat marks on his chest for the effort. Minutes later, Jalil Anibaba took the ball near the right endline and sent in a cross that was cleared out to Pappa, whose long shot went straight to Kozic.
Toronto’s opening goal left jaws dropping all over Toyota Park. After forcing Toronto forward Eric Hassli to cough up the ball inside of midfield, Pappa dribbled back toward his own goal and rolled a pass in the general direction of Berry. Johnson easily picked it off and beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson one-on-one.
Sparked by obvious attacking chemistry between Chris Rolfe and newcomer Alvaro Fernandez, the Fire continued to have the lion’s share of the scoring chances, but could not level the score before the break, and only a clutch stoppage-time save by Johnson, who blocked Luis Silva’s point-blank attempt off the right post and out, kept the Fire within one at halftime.
The Fire attack got a new look after the intermission, when Sherjill MacDonald came off the bench for Oduro and, five minutes in, Patrick Nyarko replaced the injured Fernandez. But Pappa provided the crucial spark early in the half. Several minutes after leveling the score, the Guatemalan midfielder worked a quick give-and-go with MacDonald to get into the penalty area, then fired a close-range shot into the left outside netting. He also forced Kocic into a save from close range in the 75th minute. In between, the Fire thought they had a penalty kick when Logan Pause went down on a challenge from behind by Reds defender Terry Dunfield, but referee Michael Kennedy allowed play to continue.
After Berry scored the clincher, MacDonald made three stoppage-time attempts to pad the lead, but two missed the target and one was saved by Kocic.
The Reds’ hopes of equalizing largely evaporated over the closing minutes, first when defender Logan Emory collected his second yellow card and was ejected in the 79th minute, and then when midfielder Jeremy Hall had to leave with an injury in the 88th, after coach Paul Mariner had used all three of his substitutes, leaving Chicago (10-7-5, 35 pts) with a two-man advantage.
Toronto remain at the bottom of the MLS East at 5-13-4 (19 pts).