|Matchup||Chicago Fire (12-7-5, 41 pts.) vs. Toronto FC (13-3-8, 47 pts.)|
|Date||Saturday, Aug. 19 • 7:00 p.m. CT|
|Location||Bridgeview, Ill. • Toyota Park|
|TV||CSN Chicago (Pregame Show: 6:30 p.m.)|
|Spanish Radio||Univision América 1200 (WRTO)|
|Injuries, Suspensions, Lineup Projection||MLS Match Preview|
The Fire return home on Saturday night for what is undeniably one of the keystone matches of their 2017 home schedule. They'll welcome Toronto FC -- the Eastern Conference leaders and the last team to defeat the Men In Red at Toyota park -- to Bridgeview for a 7 p.m. CT kickoff (CSN Chicago), and look to get back on track as the 2017 MLS playoffs begin to loom. Coming off a 4-1 victory over Portland last weekend, Toronto FC approach Saturday night aiming to pull away atop the Supporters' Shield standings. Ahead of Saturday's pivotal intraconference clash, here are a few key facts, faces and figures to keep in mind:
Key number: 6
Entering the weekend, the Fire sit six points back of Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings. Toronto have rattled off results in six straight matches, but this will be their first and only trip to Toyota Park, where the Fire themselves are 10-0-1 on the year with victories in nine straight. Should Chicago capitalize on their home field advantage, picking up another three points and denying Toronto of any would be as good as a six point swing in the conference standings.
Matchup to watch: Sebastian Giovinco vs. Fire defensive depth
It's no secret that Toronto forward Sebastian Giovinco hasn't performed at quite the level the league has seen from him in the past, but it's also no secret that he can single-handedly make a mess of an opponent's back line at any moment if allowed. Giovinco put two past goalkeeper Jorge Bava in a 3-1 loss when the Fire traveled to Toronto in late April, so they'll be quite familiar with his skill set. At this point, the Fire are ailing along the back four, with fullbacks Matt Polster and Brandon Vincent likely out for Saturday, and central defender Joao Meira questionable after suffering a calf strain in Montreal on Wednesday. It'll be up to a combination of Jonathan Campbell, Christian Dean, Patrick Doody, Michael Harrington and Drew Conner to step in and limit the Atomic Ant's ability to roam the final third.
One Big Question: How far will the sold out Toyota Park crowd push the home side?
As announced Friday morning, Saturday night's match will boast a sellout crowd of 20,000+ when the first ball is kicked. The Fire have been unbeatable at home this season, boasting a league-high home goal differential of +26 while winning 10 times and drawing once in 11 outings. Saturday's match will be the fourth-consecutive sellout at Toyota Park, in which time the Fire have outscored opponents 14-1. It will be a welcome return for head coach Veljko Paunovic and his side.
Sizing Up The Series
All-time, the Fire hold a narrow 9-8-8 advantage in regular season matches against Toronto FC, including a 5-1-5 record in matches played at Toyota Park. TFC's lone win in Bridgeview came on Sept. 10 of last year, since which time the Fire are unbeaten (11-0-3) on their home pitch. David Accam scored in the Fire's only 2017 trip to Toronto back on April 21, but the Men In Red were undone in Canada 3-1 on the day.
Quote of the Week:
"I think it's really important. It's just what we need right now."
That's Fire forward Luis Solignac on his team's excitement to get back out in front of the home fans at Toyota Park on Saturday. Hear it from the man himself in the video above.