Toronto Tamed By Fire

Chicago protects an early lead as Reds lose Carolina opener 1-0.

CHARLESTON, South Carolina - Toronto FC’s preseason continued with a 1-0 defeat to Chicago Fire in Charleston on Saturday night. Marco Pappa scored the only goal of the game in the sixth minute to give Chicago a victory in the opening game of the Carolina Challenge Cup.

Toronto had the first opportunity of the game when SuperDraft pick Joao Plata saw a shot blocked in the second minute following a cross by Javier Martina, but the Fire soon sparked into life and Stefan Frei had to make a save from Diego Chaves just two minutes later.

The opening goal came in the 6th minute when Chicago broke quickly into the box and Davis Paul pulled the ball back into the path of Marco Pappa who scored from close range to give the Fire a 1-0 lead.

In the 17th minute Pappa caused problems for Toronto’s defence again but his dangerous cross into the box was cleared behind for a corner by Academy left back Ashtone Morgan.

Jacob Peterson shot wide from long distance for Toronto in the 24th minute, and then the Reds saw two of their players collect yellow cards in quick succession. First Plata went into the referee’s notebook in the 29th, and three minutes later Nick LaBrocca was show a yellow for a foul on Gaston Puerari.

In the 35th minute, Chicago were reduced to 10 men when captain Logan Pause was sent off for a foul on Toronto FC Academy midfielder Oscar Cordon. With the man advantage, Toronto kept most of the possession for the final 10 minutes of the half. LaBrocca did well to cross from a difficult angle on the right touchline but Josip Mikulic cleared away, and just before half time, Dan Gargan shot over the bar.

Toronto FC made two changes at half time, including the introduction of Canadian international Andrew Ornoch who joined the team on trial in Charleston earlier in the week. Nick Soolsma also came into the match as Toronto switched to three at the back. The Dutch forward Soolsma was shown a yellow card inside the opening minute of the second half for a foul on Maric.

Toronto had most of the ball in the opening stages of the second half and Ornoch had his first strike on goal in the 53rd minute, but having done well to create space, the shot was straight at the Fire keeper Sean Johnson.

Against the run of play in the 56th minute, Chicago almost doubled their lead when Cory Gibbs connected with a corner, but he flashed a header just wide of the left post.

As Toronto looked for a game tying goal, Ornoch headed over from Martina’s cross in the 65th minute and Maicon Santos sent a 72nd minute free kick over the bar from 25 yards out.

The best opportunity for the Reds came with 14 minutes remaining when Santos fed Oscar Cordon and the Academy midfielder fired narrowly wide. Santos then had an opportunity on goal himself two minutes later but was denied by an excellent save from Johnson. Despite dominating the play for most of the second half, Toronto couldn’t find a way to tie the game.

Toronto FC will return to action on Wednesday against hosts Charleston Battery at 7:15 p.m.

Scoring summary:
Toronto FC: None
Chicago Fire: Marco Pappa 6’

Toronto FC (4-3-3) Frei, Gargan, Attakora, Yourassowsky (Stinson 87’), Morgan (Ornoch 46’), LaBrocca (Makubuya 69’), Cordon, Peterson (Sturgis 79’), Martina (Zavarise 84’), Maicon, Plata (Soolsma 46’)

Chicago Fire: (3-5-2) Johnson, Anibaba (Segares 46’), Mikulic, Gibbs, Ristic, Husidic, Pause, Pappa (Bone 84’), Paul (Nyarko 63’), Puerari (Maric 39’, Videira 50’), Chaves (Ferrari 79’)