The Chicago Fire broke their 10-game league winless streak Sunday night, beating fellow Eastern Conference strugglers Toronto FC 2-0 in front of 12,020 at Toyota Park.
Chicago forward Dominic Oduro scored an early goal and former TFC defender Dan Gargan doubled the advantage in the second half, giving the Fire their first win since June 12th and just their third of the season.
Oduro put the Fire ahead in the 16th minute. The Ghanaian striker, who struggled in front of net in Thursday’s 1-1 draw against DC, completed a nice attacking move by neatly flicking defender Gonzalo Segares’ cross past TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic for his eighth tally of the season.
Oduro’s goal swung momentum the Fire’s way, with Chicago controlling possession and creating more chances in the minutes after the opener.
Defender Cory Gibbs should’ve doubled the Fire’s lead in the 30th. The veteran center back, who returned to the starting lineup Sunday night after missing Chicago’s last three games with an injury, got on the end of midfielder Pavel Pardo’s set piece at the top of the six, but couldn’t keep his unimpeded side volley under the bar.
Toronto nearly made good on the a look of their own when, in the 33rd minute, Reds’ forward Ryan Johnson got loose for a one-on-one opportunity with Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson. Ryan Johnson didn’t place his shot well, though, and the Fire man made a relatively easy save.
Five minutes later TFC looked like they were going to even things up when Designated Player Julian de Guzman sent a low right footed shot that looked destined for the back of the net, but it skidded just wide of the left post.
Toronto couldn’t keep Chicago on the back foot for long though, and would’ve gone into the break with a bigger deficit if it weren’t for a pair of fine saves by Kocic in the 43rd and 45th minutes. Midfielder Sebastian Grazzini had the first chance, collecting a bouncing ball in the box and nearly slipping a close-range effort through the Serbian keeper’s legs.
Midfielder Marco Pappa had the next opportunity, ripping a 20-yard left footer that Kocic dove to keep out of the left upper 90.
Toronto came agonizingly close to equalizing in the 51st, when de Guzman sent a low right footer off the right post from 20 yards. Toronto forward Joao Plata pounced on the rebound from the left side of the box, but he couldn’t take advantage of the open opportunity, sending his shot wide right.
Gargan made it 2-0 in the 69th minute. The former TFC right back, who was traded from Toronto to Chicago just over three weeks ago, got on the end of a bouncing corner kick at the right post, powering a header inside the far bar.
Toronto cruelly hit the post again in the 77th minute. Johnson got on the end of defender Danleigh Borman’s cross at the right post, only to see his solid diving header reverberate off the woodwork.
Chicago saw out the rest of the game with relative ease, content to hold onto the ball and drain the clock.
The result moves the Fire (3-7-15, 24 points) out of last place in the East and past Toronto (4-11-11, 23 points) in the Eastern Conference table.
Both teams return to action next Saturday, with Toronto hosting San Jose at BMO Field and Chicago facing off against Colorado at Toyota Park.