South Couch Report: Toronto vs Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire as the Sting

The Part I Write Before :

Well, that whole penalty shootout thing still feels like a kick in the nuts, but anyone suggesting ‘you threw away a bunch of MLS games for nothing’ is very much wrong, that CCL run was well worth it even without silverware and the club world cup to look forward to.

Anyway, back to MLS it is. 3 points from 5 games isn’t great obviously, but hey, TFC had 7 points from 6 games to start 2017 and ended up with the most points ever, a win today and we’re 1 point behind that pace.  More of an issue is the injuries and the fatigue, 13 games into the season already, and also with a congested schedule ahead as they’ve only played 5 league games, it’s gonna be a bit of a slog from here really.

It starts today with a visit from Chicago, who’ve been pretty underwhelming themselves, with Bastian Schweinsteiger doing his best Torsten Frings impression and playing sweeper here and there. Nikolic has got a few goals as well, and hey they went to Jersey and beat the red bulls last week, but generally they’ve seemed unthreatening so 3 points is definitely a possibility here.

With that said, here’s your TFC lineup.


4-5-1, Vanney with very little choice in the back, and apparently preferring 5 midfielders to putting any of Ricketts, Hamilton or Spencer out there.  It could work, I’m presuming it’ll look like a 4-2-3-1. Hasler and Delgado can provide protection to that backline and thus the defensive weaknesses of that Osorio, Vazquez and Aketxe line won’t be as exposed as they were when it was rolled out against Columbus. Which is good, cos there were definitely moments when it looked good, there’s potential for some sexy football here, even without Altidore to do the handy big man up front work.

Bold Predictions :

  1. Aketxe hits the bar at some point.
  2. Another injury to deal with.
  3. TFC win.

On to the Match :

Pre game has a Benoit Cheyrou tribute, and as per Martyn Bailey on twitter, this’ll be Marky Delgado’s 100th appearance in all competitions.

6 degrees, feels like 2, might have stopped raining now, but still a miserable day, and the crowd looks a bit sparse so far. Schweinsteiger’s in gloves and short sleeves, which is a bit odd.

4′ Looking ok so far, Hasler gets a shot off, he seems to be a bit more forward than I would have expected.

Goal: 8′ -Giovinco played in behind the defence, takes it on, then crosses to a wide open Osorio to bundle it in. They’re maybe going to VAR it. Giovinco looked a bit offside.  But no, after a minute or so, they decide it’s a goal. feel the excitement of VAR! TFC 1:0 Fire

10′ Chicago immediately come back, Bono pushes a shot wide of the post.

Goal: 11′ From the corner, TFC break with Giovinco, he delays a bit then passes it off to Hasler on the byline who knocks it back to Giovinco who knocks it home.  TFC 2:0 Fire. Oh for fucks sake, another potential VAR issue, kick off being held up. And this one is ruled out, Hasler offside. Boooooo. Feel the excitement of VAR. TFC 1:0 Fire

Goal: 22′ – A corner is cleared, Bradley tries to volley from about 30 yards out, it goes hilariously wrong, and ends up on the corner of the box, and to Vazquez who lobs the goalie and just inside the far post. No VAR required. TFC 2:0 Fire.

30′ Chicago break, Katai played behind Morgan, chooses not to shoot, instead crosses and Bono then gets in the way of the shot from Collier, and out for a corner.

35′ Ball pinballs around in the box a bit. Morgan tries to clear it. Nikolic gets there first, thus Morgan inadvertently kicks Nikolic. No penalty given, but oh, now it goes to VAR. No worries though, noted fair and balanced commentator Steven Caldwell doesn’t think it was a foul.

37′ It’s a penalty. Fair. It was inadvertent and undeliberate, but it was a foul. Schweinsteiger to take.

38′ Oh now Bono can save a penalty. bah.  Anyway, no goal, that’s a good thing, still 2-0.


Half Time Mood: Well, that wasn’t bad at all, even with the VAR nonsense.  And a Victor Vazquez half time interview, that’s always a treat. #Manuel  In the meantime, Great Britain’s ice hockey team just won promotion to the top flight of international hockey, so next year, they’ll be playing in the world championships!!!!!!  They’ll be awful, no doubt, but this might be the first time ever I pay attention to that tournament.

48′ Giovinco knocked over and basically calls his own foul, about 25 yards out central. He hits the wall. Almost over, but very good walling from Collier, jumps and just gets his head to it.

Sub: 67′ Campos for Collier. It hasn’t been a terrible second half by any means, but not much noteworthy happening.

Goal: 69′ Schweinsteiger with a header after a corner. TFC appealing for offside, wanting VAR, but it’s been called a goal, which is correct. Though Campos was offside and was standing right in front of Bono, so maybe he could have been called.  TFC 2:1 Fire

Yellow: 73′ Katai for bundling down Bradley among other things.

Sub: 75′ Ricketts and Hernandez on. Vazquez and Hasler off.  Decent games for both of them really. Hasler did well wide on the right.

Sub: McCarty off, Bakero on.

78′ Aketxe gets some space and shoots. Just wide of the post.

79′ Getting sloppy here, and Bakero with a terrible miss.

Yellow: Hernandez for something

Sub: Fraser on, Aketxe off. Another meh game from Meh-ketxe.

Sub: Vincent off, Alan Gordon on!!!!

85′ Nikolic through. Bono brings him down, but he was offside, though we may be VARing again as I’m not sure he was offside. Though apparently offside can’t be VAR’ed so TFC catch a break as that’d be a penalty and probably a red, with all subs used already.

91′ Good save from Bono, then a goalmouth scramble and it absolutely impossibly doesn’t go in, Fraser with a goalline clearance, then they hit the bar. Ridiculous, but well done Bono and Fraser.

Goal: 94′ Last minute of injury time, another scramble and Alan fucking Gordon scores.  Chicago probably deserve it, but that’s cruel.  TFC 2:2 Fire

Full Time : Well, that’s harsh. A pretty exhausted looking second half from TFC and the Fire deserve the point. On the bright side, TFC look like they’re more than ready to come back and kick MLS’ arse once they get a bit of rest and get back to one a week matches, which handily will start now.  Also, VAR can fuck right off, such an annoying process.


Man of the Match : Vazquez looked good out there, that was reassuring.
Goat of the Game : Aketxe continues to underwhelm.
Ref Rating : 2 out of 5. It all seemed very confused out there, even if VAR did eventually bring correct decisions.
I Am Not The Gaffer, But… : Can’t really complain given the injuries. Certainly got the starting lineup right, and again can’t really complain or blame Vanney for them getting tired towards the end.
In Case You PVR’d It : Watch the first half, then delete it, and live with the blessed reassurance that TFC are back baby!

Bold Predictions Results :

    1. Failed it. Indecision and meekness seemed more of an issue today.
    2. Failed it. I think, though Osorio looked to take a few knocks, and Bono may well have injured himself when he took out Nikolic.
    3. Failed it. Nearly, but nope.

Eventually TFC’ll be fine, just ran out of gas today, that’s all.

Player Ratings: Bono 7, Morgan 6.5, Bradley 7, van der Wiel 7, Auro Jr. 7, Osorio 6, Hasler 7 (Hernandez n/a), Vazquez 7.5 (Ricketts N/A), Delgado 7, Aketxe 6( Fraser n/a), Giovinco 7

Unused Substitutions: Irwin, Telfer, Chapman, Hamilton


Author: Duncan Fletcher

Blogging journeyman formerly of Cruel Geography and Waking the Red, also briefly with Sportsnet and every now and then with the Guardian. As a supporter of Darlington, TFC, England and Canada, football's been unfair and poking fun at Duncan for decades now, so it's only fair he does the same right back at it. Follow him on twitter @duncandfletcher

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1 Comment

  1. Certainly as Oso and Vazquez tired, the midfield and the team started to suffer and were overwhelmed by the Fire. The team is really missing Bradley in the midfield. The team desperately needs Mavinga to return at a minimum.

    It was in a strange way good to see Alan Gordon still be the threat on the net, he is.

    Aketex is just simply been given too many opportunities others should have earned. I hear others in a variety of sources that Aketex should be brought on…why, he has proven to be a liability. Fraser and Mino have shown greater promise in their limit pitch-time.

    I thought the first goal by the Reds was offside, VAR and the assistant be damned. Seba’s called back goal was correct. But the PK was a pile of garbage. Nikolic did sneak up on Morgan who had dawdled a bit and Nikolic got his foot on the ball, but in my pvr version there is no significant contact to Nikolic when Morgan smartly kicked the ball away. VAR uses broadcaster’s video feed. So not sure why Referee Kelly changed his mind. On the Schweinsteiger goal Nikolic was offside and active with his attempt to head the ball. Kelly chose either not to fully review the play or opted to allow the goal. Some act as if Referee Kelly walks on water; I am far less impressed with Kelly, especially after that 2016 MLS Cup game.

    VAR Explainer

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