Toronto FC hasn’t beaten the Chicago Fire since 2010. Last season a pair of tough decisions by the referee made sure the streak remained in tact.
Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore have returned from international duty, while Justin Morrow’s one game suspension has been served. It isn’t all good news, however. Steven Caldwell will not play and Damien Perquis is unlikely to partake in Saturday’s game, according to head coach Greg Vanney. Eriq Zavaleta and Mark Bloom will also likely be rested ahead of the bye week.
This means the young duo of Nick Hagglund and Clement Simonin will likely feature at centre-back. No rest for the young moving forward.
Here are three keys for Saturday’s game versus the Chicago Fire. Catch the game on Sportsnet One at 3:00 PM ET.
Bradley and Altidore
Though they weren’t with their teammates in Salt Lake City, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore kept a close eye on last Sunday’s game in Utah.
"I was watching the [RSL] game at 4 AM in Zurich,” said Altidore. “Everyone on the floor could hear me."
“Jozy and I are both excited to get back on the field in Chicago this weekend,” said Bradley.
“I thought we started the game well. The first 10 minutes or so, you always talk about playing in the other team’s half.”
“We were a little unfortunate to give away a goal like that right before halftime, but in the second half I thought the response was very good. “
Altidore will slot in the for the suspended Luke Moore, while Bradley will likely replace Collen Warner in the midfield.
Whether they play the entire 90 minutes remains to be seen.
Harry Shipp is proving his fantastic rookie season is no fluke.
The Fire Academy product created the lone goal in Chicago’s 1-0 win over Philadelphia last Sunday.
While Greg Vanney is obviously concerned by the threat posed by Shipp, he also acknowledged that the midfielder can be vulnerable defensively.
“Chicago lines up differently than Salt Lake," he said. "That’s the beauty of this league. No two weekends are the same.“[Shipp] is good with the ball. He has a pretty free role. When he plays out wide he actually spends more time on the inside. At the same time he leaves space open in transition.”
Exploiting the gaps left by Shipp’s marauding runs will go a long way for the Reds in Chicago.
No Easy Foes
Chicago isn’t expected to do much this season, but there are no easy foes in this league.
“We respect them for sure,” said Vanney. “They’re a team that has some weapons at their disposal. At the same time we see it as a game where we take three points.”
“It’s still a good team,” said Bradley.“They’re a much better team than people are giving them credit for. Any time you have that many new players it’s going to take a little bit of time to kind of get used to playing with each other.
“For them it was a good win last weekend against Philadelphia. We have respect for every team, but we want to go to Chicago and play well and get a win.”
Watch the game this Saturday at 3:00 PM ET on Sportsnet One and follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TFCLive