CFFCII_MatchPreview_TFC_0822

CHICAGO (August 23, 2022) – Chicago Fire FC II will welcome Toronto FC II to SeatGeek Stadium for the first time this Thursday, August 25, 2022. The match will serve as the third time the teams have played this season, with Toronto winning their inaugural tilt at home by a score of 4-2 in April. But the Fire broke out with 6 goals in their second meeting, a 6-2 rout in May that was also the team’s first road win of the season. Coverage of the match on MLSNEXTPro.com will begin five minutes prior to first kick at 7:00 p.m. CT.

The Fire (5-10-5-2) hope for continued success in a brief two-game homestand in Bridgeview, following a dominant 5-0 performance against NYCFC II. Victor Bezerra scored an opening goal for his team-leading eight tally of the season, but Josh Penn narrowed the gap in the team’s golden boot race with two goals only minutes after entering the match in the second half. Kendall Burks scored his first goal as a professional, while Missael Rodríguez added his fifth of the season off the bench. Chris Brady recorded his fourth clean sheet in likely the most efficient match of his career – the Homegrown goalkeeper only faced four shots and was forced to make a single save in the effort.

Toronto FC II (10-6-3-2) arrive in Bridgeview having eliminated FC Cincinnati 2 from playoff contention in a 2-1 home victory. Midfielder Paul Rothrock opened the scoring in only the second minute of the match to add his team-leading sixth goal of the season for TFC II, while winger Julian Altobelli added an assist in the 84th minute to go with his five goals in the campaign. The win catapulted Toronto to second place in the Eastern Conference and first place of the Northeast Division.

KEYS TO THE MATCH

To the Victor go the spoils. Prior to Saturday’s match, Victor Bezerra had played a total of 69 minutes in the span of one month with Chicago Fire II. The Homegrown forward’s scoring prowess earned him a spot on the first team bench at the expense of playing time with the second team. In his first start in August, however, Bezerra picked up where he left off. Bezerra has now scored 8 goals in 11 starts for the team, showing why he was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy in 2021, college soccer’s highest individual award.

Unheralded Sergio. Homegrown midfielder Sergio Oregel, Jr. has quietly been among the best players in the league, even if the box scores did not show it. But his two assists on Sunday made it five in the last two months – the most in MLS NEXT Pro in that stretch. The U.S. Men’s Youth international placed two pinpoint passes into the box in the first half that his teammates turned into goals with ease. He now shares the team assist lead with Charlie Ostrem.

The Penn is mightier than the sword. Naperville, Ill. native Josh Penn has traveled far and wide – from Indiana University to Inter Miami CF, and even to Norway in 2019 for a trial with Brondby IF – but he’s made himself at home in Bridgeview. With seven goals for the season, Penn has become one of the most dependable attackers on the team. Saturday’s brace also showed he’s just as capable off the bench as he is from the start. On Thursday, he will look to replicate his other multi-goal match – a hat trick against Toronto in May.

HOW TO WATCH

Chicago Fire FC II will host Toronto FC II on Thursday, August 25 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Ill. Match entry and parking are free. First kick is slated for 7 p.m. CT and the match stream will start five minutes prior on MLSNEXTPro.com.