Well, last week was fun, wasn’t it?
A last-minute loss in Austin, a disheartening postgame plea from star man Federico Bernardeschi, a player-coach feud between he and Bob Bradley, and a jaw-dropping report on the dressing room drama all occurred in the span of seven days.
Toronto FC then followed it up by getting the better of D.C. United at home, surprising plenty in the process.
With a quick turnaround, the Reds will look to make the most out of a rare positive momentum boost as they look for back-to-back wins at BMO Field against the visiting Chicago Fire on Wednesday evening.
Back in the mix for the midweek contest will be Bernardeschi, who missed out on Saturday’s 2-1 victory due to a coaching decision. Lorenzo Insigne stepped up in his absence, assisting both Deandre Kerr and Kosi Thompson in what was one of his best performances in a red (onyx?) shirt since joining the club last summer. With pressure mounting on he and Bernardeschi in recent weeks, fans will expect to see the very best from the two Designated Players against a leaky Chicago defence.
Bernardeschi won’t be the only player returning to the matchday squad on Wednesday. According to TFC insider Michael Singh, centre-back Sigurd Rosted is fit and ready for action after missing out on the past four matches with an upper body injury he suffered in the loss to CF Montréal in the Canadian Championship quarter-final. Fellow central defender Aimé Mabika has filled in admirably while Rosted missed time, so Bradley will have to decide whether the Zambian keeps his place next to Matt Hedges or if he goes back to the partnership which started the first seven matches of the campaign.
Brandon Servania has also been deemed good to go for the upcoming fixture after avoiding serious injury in the last match. The American international was pulled twenty minutes into the D.C. United match, being replaced by Thompson, the eventual match-winner.
After an early-season injury crisis, suddenly Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio are the only two surefire starters who are on the shelf. There can’t be any more excuses made for the Reds, who are trying to get back into playoff contention. It is crucial that the most recent win isn’t an outlier in the midst of a poor run of form. Wins, even unconvincing ones, will help deafen much of the noise surrounding a club that always seems to be entangled with some sort of drama.
The visiting Fire are equal with TFC on 16 points, having played one less match than the Reds. Interim bench boss Frank Klopas has overseen just one win since taking over the leading role from the now-departed Ezra Hendrickson. Since that 1-0 victory over St. Louis, Chicago lost to Charlotte and then managed back-to-back 3-3 draws with Atlanta United and New England.
Toronto hold a strong recent record against the club that Bob Bradley led to an MLS Cup in 1998, but the Fire torched the Reds in their last meeting, a 2-0 win at Soldier Field back in July 2022.
Can this next encounter be a step in the right direction for Toronto? Or will it be a case of one step forward, two steps back?
Toronto FC: Johnson; Franklin, Rosted, Hedges, Laryea; Servania, Kaye, Thompson; Insigne, Sapong, Bernardeschi
Chicago Fire: Brady; Czichos, Pineda, Omsberg, Souquet; Gimenez, Torres; Gutierrez, Shaqiri, Haile-Selassie; Przybylko
- Toronto FC have lost just once in their last 15 meetings with the Chicago Fire (11-1-3)
- Only Federico Higuain (12) has scored more goals against Toronto FC than Fire striker Kei Kamara (11)
Opponent: Chicago Fire
Kickoff time: 7:30 pm ET
Watch: MLS Season Pass
Stadium: BMO Field, Toronto, Ont.