Drilling down on: Chicago 3, at Toronto 2

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Man of the Match: Quite a few credible performances to choose from, including Sabastian Grazzini, who ably ran the Fire attack, and Dominic Oduro, who had a goal and an assist. But we’ll select Patrick Nyarko, who also had a goal and assist, and whose classy second-half finish proved the game-winner.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Oduro’s goal for Chicago after 25 seconds was the fastest yet for the Fire and fifth fastest in MLS history.
  • Toronto’s two best starters combined to foul up the afternoon just 25 seconds in Saturday.  Goalkeeper Milos Kocik probably had better options than laying the ball at Torsten Frings’ feet with pressure afoot left and right of the veteran German. Still, a player of Frings’ experience should understand the danger and could presumably deal with the situation adequately without turning the moment into a fiasco. So, plenty of blame to go around on that one.
  • Chicago center back Jalil Anibaba continues to show he has lots of potential. The communication between he and veteran Arne Friedrich was better Saturday than in their first match as a pairing. Let’s see if Friedrich can mentor Anibaba the way, say, Gregg Berhalter once successfully mentored a young Omar Gonzalez.
  • There is no defensive order to TFC’s 3-4-3 arrangement. And the side looks even more disorganized exiting out of the back of that formation. As for commitment to the 3-4-3 …
  • If the 3-4-3 is really the best formation for Toronto, then why shift radically into a 4-4-2 (with Frings and Julian de Guzman in the middle) after 60 minutes?
  • After two quiet starts, Reggie Lambe’s bright work along TFC’s right side was a promising sign, never mind his two goals for the home side.
  • As productive as Lambe was on offense, he the guilty party on Chicago’s second, losing Gonzalo Segares on a free kick that turned into an equalizer at a critical time, right before intermission and right after Toronto had taken a lead.
  • That 40th minute goal from Lambe gave Toronto’s its first lead of 2012. Yes, that’s accurate.
  • Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson, still with so much to learn, made two mistakes on Lambe’s second. He was barely challenged and yet decided to punch rather than catch a manageable ball at the 6. As Lambe collected his punch about 25 yards from goal, Johnson was poorly stationed about a step or step-and-a-half too far to his left, so he was in no position to deal with Lambe’s shot toward the near post.
  • Things improved dramatically for Toronto once Frings moved into the midfield. (More on that later, in another PST post.)
  • The loss certainly won’t fall at Frings’ or Ryan Johnson’s feet. Both TFC en came oh-so-close to late equalizers. More than that, both were pushing passionately for the late goal, leaving it all on the BMO grass.