CHICAGO (May 21, 2023) - Chicago Fire FC II will travel north of the border to take on Toronto FC II at York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario on Sunday, May 21. The Fire will look to earn three points against a team they previously defeated in their 2023 home opener. First kick in north Toronto is set for 6 p.m. CT and the match will be streamed live on MLSNEXTPro.com.
Chicago Fire II (2-3-3-0) returns to action eager to get its third victory of the season. The Fire edged out Huntsville City FC in terms of possession and goal opportunities. However, it was the visitors who struck first, courtesy of Isaiah Johnston’s first half stoppage time goal. The home side stormed out of the gate in the second half, and a foul in the box gave Harold Osorio an opportunity with a penalty kick. He converted, equalizing the match to force a shootout. Despite Osorio making his own shot, Huntsville came away with the shootout win and the extra point.
TFC II (1-5-1-0) has had a turbulent season in 2023. The Reds are currently mired in last place of the Eastern Conference with only one point, but results have been close, losing to top teams like Orlando and New England by only a goal. In their last match, TFC II sprinted out to a 2-0 home lead against the Revolution in the first half. But the visitors clawed back, and Dayan Rivera scored twice to complete the New England 3-2 comeback. Jesus Batiz scored once in the match to lead Toronto in scoring with three, tied with Hugo Mbongue.
This match is the fifth meeting between both sides all time, making TFC II the most commonly seen opponent for the Fire in MLS NEXT Pro play. The Fire holds a 3-1 lead, including a 1-1 mark on the road. In their last match, Chicago fought back from being one man down to win 2-0, with goals from defenders Eric Leonard and Charlie Ostrem. The result marks the last regulation victory for the Fire, which will be looking to get back to winning ways after three consecutive draws.
KEYS TO THE MATCH
Osorio on Fire. Harold Osorio had a slow beginning to 2023, recovering from injury and gradually increasing his minutes as the season wound on. But the Salvadoran midfielder has really turned it on in the last two matches, with a goal in each appearance. After a Justin Reynolds-assisted tally in Minnesota, Osorio forced a corner kick against Huntsville that turned into a penalty kick – which he turned into his second goal of the season. The Fire will hope Osorio continues his sparkling form against Toronto on the road.
Defense Wins Titles. Outside of a 3-3 barnburner in Minnesota, the Fire defense has allowed opponents few chances in the box. The unit is currently in the upper third of the league despite rotating pieces on the backline. With the development of late arriving players like Lamonth Rochester, the defense can only continue to improve, and could prove to be the difference against attack-minded teams like Toronto FC.
High Octane Action. Chicago’s 2-0 win over Toronto in March 2023 is the lowest scoring match of the series between both teams, which usually have been thrilling affairs. The opening match was a 4-2 home victory for Toronto in April 2022. Since then, the Fire thrashed the Reds 6-2 and beat them 2-1 before opening the home portion of the 2023 schedule with the aforementioned victory. The fans may clamor for high-scoring action, but Chicago Fire II head coach Ludovic Taillandier may opt for a cleaner, not so nerve-racking match.
HOW TO WATCH
Chicago Fire FC II will travel north of the border to take on Toronto FC II at York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario on Sunday, May 21. First kick in north Toronto is set for 6 p.m. ET and the match will be streamed live on MLSNEXTPro.com.