Patrick Nyarko
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Fire Claim Second In East After 2-1 Victory

TORONTO — Two veteran attacking players provided the goals as the Chicago Fire earned a hard fought, 2-1 road victory over a cellar-dwelling Toronto FC side at BMO Field on Wednesday evening.

Alvaro Fernandez and Chris Rolfe found the back of the net in the first half against a listless TFC side that rallied some in the second 45, but could only halve the lead with Eric Hassli’s late gaol.

Fernandez’s goal in the 13th minute set the tone for the game, as the Uruguayan winger headed home from a Pavel Pardo cross. The goal came after Chicago had forced a turnover out of Aaron Maund, then strung together a quick series of passes in the final third. Pardo got onto the last one, but fired his shot off the post – only to see the rebound come right back to him. He spun and found Fernandez unmarked for the 1-0 lead.

Chicago kept generating chances against a sloppy TFC side who were short a number of regulars due to injury and international duty. The persistence paid off when Rolfe got his team-leading sixth of the season, slamming home a drive from 22 yards after a corner kick was poorly cleared.

After falling behind by two goals in the first half, TFC Head Coach Paul Mariner attempted to kick start his team’s offense in the second half with the insertion of Ashtone Morgan and Eric Avila in place of Andrew Wiedeman and Logan Emory, eventually switching to a 3-5-2. Those moves paid off in the 79th minute when midfielder Luis Silva set up Designated Player Eric Hassli for a late goal by the home side.

The two teams exchanged several more salvos down the stretch as TFC made Chicago sweat, but Sean Johnson was big off his line several times while both Sherjill MacDonald and Brazilian attacker Alex failed to salt the game away.

The victory gives Chicago (14-8-5, 47 points) a clean sweep of all three matches played against Toronto this year and has now earned them their fifth win in their last six league matches. They move to second place in the East, and will endeavor to continue their positive run of form at home against the Montreal Impact on Sept. 15.

Toronto (5-17-6, 21 points), meanwhile, will try to avoid stretching their winless streak to nine games against Philadelphia on Saturday in another home fixture at BMO Field.