Three straight losses followed up by three consecutive draws means it’s safe to say things have not gone to plan this season for the Chicago Fire. But with a trip to Toronto on the agenda this weekend, the Fire will hope to finally put an end to such a dismal run. With just one win its first eight matches this season, Toronto FC enters the match in equally poor form and present the Fire’s best chance to return to winning ways.
Toronto FC currently lies in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, just three points ahead of the Fire, and are coming off a 1-0 midweek defeat to FC Dallas. The Fire will hope to avoid a repeat of last season as the Toronto dished out a 4-1 thrashing on May 8th in this corresponding fixture. The Fire will also be hoping to avoid a recurrence of their worst run of form last season. The club’s worst winless streak last year was seven matches, stretching from August 21st to September 29th. The Fire have now gone just over a month without a win and will equal last season’s streak if they fail to earn all three points on Saturday.
Toronto FC: L-D-L-W-L
5 things to watch for:
1) Jon Conway – After earning his first clean sheet in a Fire jersey last weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps, another shutout will go a long way towards solidifying his spot as the Fire’s number one ‘keeper. A lot of fans have expressed their desire to see Sean Johnson reinstated between the posts, but Conway can quell some of those protests with a solid performance on Saturday.
2) Joao Plata – Despite only having one goal to his name this season, Plata is one of the few bright spots for the Canadian club this season. His play in the attacking third is a valuable asset for Toronto and is one of the few weapons in a misfiring offense. Will he be able to deliver on Saturday though?
3) Midfield Dominance – Thoughts of a disastrous midfield performance against Colorado were somewhat forgotten thanks to a much improved midfield display against the Whitecaps last weekend. But which of the two will we see on Saturday night? Regardless of what formation Carlos de los Cobos assigns, the Fire should be able to easily control the midfield and hopefully make possession count.
4) Gaston Puerari – After a bright start to his Fire career, the Uruguayan striker has suffered a dip in form of late but will look to recapture some of that form that had Fire fans raving about his arrival in Chicago. Carlos de los Cobos has opted to play him slightly deeper in a more attacking midfield role just behind Diego Chaves. How will de los Cobos deploy him on Saturday? IS he better off in an attacking midfield role or paired up front with Chaves?
5) Dominic Oduro – Originally used as a player coming off the bench late in games, Oduro has suddenly forced himself into the Fire’s starting XI. The former Dynamo front man has brought positive play in the attacking third but has failed to display any signs of a quality finish. His goal against the LA Galaxy last month is his only goal of the season, but it’s safe to say he should have at least tripled that tally since then.