TFC 2010 | Week#7

Toronto FC Thumps Chicago

Toronto FC 4 – 1  Chicago Fire

Beautiful Day At BMO

It was my favourite kind of game in our stadium by the Lake. My beer seemed warm, and I was actually happy about it. The cold, gusty wind cutting a lengthwise diagonal across the park was a force to be reckoned with on and off the field. The people filling the stands really wanted to be there and were happy to make their presence known. These huddled, shivering masses were treated to a performance that left most of us with a case of the giddies.

In the 24′, Nick LaBrocca’s high cross looked like it would land on the edge of the 18 yard box but morphed into a laser-guided missle tracking straight into the back of the Chicago net. The Fire looked like they had been cold-cocked, but what could they do when it was Mother Nature busting their butts. For most of the first half, Chicago struggled to hold the ball and  never really seemed to generate momentum going forward. Any ball the Fire lifted off the ground seemed to rise up and fly backwards. Toronto held the advantage, but never really seemed to break down a Fire team that collapsed into a fortified posture and otherwise held its ground. It was obvious the wind had become Toronto FC’s 12th, 13th and 14th men. With the minutes ticking away toward half, I was overcome by the dread of knowing that Chicago would get to field those three extra players in the second half.

Big Surprise, Giddy Good Times

That long shadow of doubt hung heavy on me through halftime break, and I was sure we were going to see an ugly comeuppance because we hadn’t potted a second goal in the first 45. To the delight and relief of all present, Toronto FC seemed to catch the Fire riding a false confidence from that same sense of impending turnabout. Working the ball well along the ground into the Chicago half, the Reds found space in the Fire midfield and swung the ball across the field through O’Brian White who pushed it farther across to Dwayne De Rosario. DeRo’s return cross was a low ball through the six yard box that White slid into and connected with just hard enough to push across the goal line. Two minutes into the second half we had scored an upwinder, and we had advanced the ball through the Fire in a way that Chicago had never demonstrated with the wind in their face. As we celebrated, there was a sense that we had achieved something strategically vital. Even after the Fire responded with a goal from a blistering 35 yard shot, it was clear that Toronto FC had taken a hold of the proceedings and that they weren’t going to let the wind dictate their day.

Stone Cold Barrett

Nothing could have been more pleasing than watching the rest of the second half. The Reds came alive, playing a solid and consistent defense with a minimum of lapses and cards. More importantly, the same discipline and finesse that guided the White goal were on display throughout the half. Playing the ball to feet and keeping it on the ground as much as possible, Toronto FC pushed a lot of game into Chicago’s final third. The Fire’s first half never looked that good, and by all accounts they were considered the better team. In the 66′, Chad Barrett took a cross from White in the area and struck it firmly home against his former team. Less than three minutes later, De Rosario punched a through ball in front of Barrett and we all held our breath as he sprinted toward goal with the Fire in pursuit. With a confidence he has rarely displayed in our uniform, Barrett rifled another shot into the back of goal. Euphoria ensued.

On a day that seemed to preclude skilled play or any realistic strategizing, we were treated to one of the best Toronto FC efforts of the 2010 season. I’m sure there will be doubtful performances ahead, and other days where things don’t fall quite so neatly our way, but yesterday’s match was a true sign of vitality and strength from the Reds. DeRo may have assisted on three of four goals, but all of the markers were earned by others. Chicago never looked competitive going upwind, and we scored three well-earned goals going in that direction. As if to answer the critics charging that our captain was our only legitimate threat, Toronto FC delivered a solid team effort in beating the Chicago Fire. I won’t be breaking out playoff hopes yet, but Saturday was the first time this season I felt my faithful support had some legitimate proof on the pitch. With a busy month ahead, most of it on the road, we can only hope that this poise and purpose can be applied to changing Toronto FC’s poor form away from BMO Field.

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