Just a week removed from a 2-1 home loss to Toronto FC, the Chicago Fire now head on the road for a quick rematch on Saturday at BMO Field.
Last weekend’s result was the fourth loss in a row for the Fire, who have just one victory in their last eight matches (1-4-3). This slide has dropped Chicago (6-11-5, 23 points) out of the Eastern playoff picture, and the club has to contend with climbing its way back up the table while also keeping teams like Toronto behind in the standings.
“We learn from our mistakes,” Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We believe we’re going to improve our plan, and we’re going to get better ... adjust everything we have to adjust, and then go there and give our best to get points.”
Poor defending has been a major reason behind the Fire’s slump. The club has conceded 14 goals over its last five games, and Chicago has allowed the second-most goals (43) of any team in MLS this season.
At least one defensive reinforcement could come on Saturday. Fullback Nicolas Hasler seems likely to make his Chicago debut after being acquired in a trade from Toronto on July 20. Newly-signed Argentinean center back Nicolas Del Grecco may not yet be available for selection, as Chicago general manager Nelson Rodriguez said earlier this week that Del Grecco’s paperwork was still being finalized.
Toronto FC (5-11-4, 19 points) would be happy to extend Chicago’s slump in order to generate some much-needed playoff race momentum for themselves. Last Saturday’s victory snapped a six-match winless drought (0-4-2) in MLS play, and Toronto was further bolstered by two recent wins over USL side Ottawa Fury FC in domestic cup action.
“For us, the matches can’t come quick enough,” defender Jason Hernandez said. “We feel like we’re starting to round into form a little bit, we have some familiar faces back, and we’re kind of building on each result that goes by. We’re in a good way at the moment so we’re looking forward to the weekend.”
Forward Jozy Altidore and defender Chris Mavinga both made their returns to Toronto FC’s starting lineup against the Fire last week after missing significant time due to injuries. Toronto still isn’t at full strength, but Victor Vazquez (knee) may be available on Saturday.
—Field Level Media