Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire preview: How to watch, kick-off time, team news, predicted lineups, and ones to watch
Photo by Justin Casterline via Getty Images

This weekend in Major League Soccer sees a battle at the basement of the Eastern Conference standings as Toronto FC hosts the Chicago Fire at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams have obviously had woeful starts to the 2022 campaign. 

Things were looking good for Chicago early on, but they have completely unraveled since then. They haven’t won a game in over two months, and they now sit in last place in the East. Their defense has gotten worse, and their attack is seemingly as inept as ever despite some recent arrivals. 

Toronto’s only been a point better, which isn’t saying much. They’ve failed to get going under new head coach Bob Bradley, although he’s certainly not got the best roster to work with. The wait for Italian superstar Lorenzo Insigne is almost over, but he’s not joined just yet, so the team’s got to figure out how to get something from this game without him.

As a result, each side could very much use a win on this occasion.

Team news

In a really strange development, Toronto has five players dealing with lower body injuries. Jahkeele Marshall-RuttyChris Mavinga, and Noble Okello will certainly miss out, while Kadin Chung and Alejandro Pozuelo are listed as doubtful at the moment. 

Chicago's injuries are more varied. Goalkeepers Chris Brady and Spencer Richey are both unavailable for selection, while Rafael Czichos and Mauricio Pineda are questionable due to leg issues.

Predicted lineups

Toronto FC: Bono, Thompson, MacNaughton, Salcedo, Petrasso, Kerr, Bradley, Priso-Mbongue, Akinola, Jiménez, Nelson

Chicago Fire: Slonina, Sekulić, Terán, Omsberg, M. Navarro, F. Navarro, Giménez , Shaqiri, Torres, Mueller, Durán

Ones to watch

Jesús Jiménez
Jesús Jiménez might be the most underrated player in Major League Soccer this season.

It doesn’t seem like anyone has been talking about the Toronto striker, but he’s got seven goals already to his name. To compare, Chicago as a team only has 11. That number puts him in joint-3rd in the Golden Boot race, and he’s only two behind league leader Jesus Ferreira.

All in all, Jiménez has been one of the few players who is actually producing for his team. A silky-smooth kind of forward, his movement is clever, and his finishing might be just as good. He has scored two beauties this campaign, curling a shot into the corner against the Philadelphia Union and chipping reigning MLS Cup MVP Sean Johnson versus NYCFC.

He’s gone quiet as of late, though, being held scoreless in each of his last four games. It’s certainly a dry spell, and it has hurt Toronto as they only picked up a single point from those matches. The Spaniard has certainly become a very important piece, and it seems like his side needs him to perform if they want to have a chance of getting a result, especially until the aforementioned Lorenzo Insigne arrives.

The Fire defense hasn’t quite been the same as of late, so there’s reason to believe that Jiménez will be able to break his duct this weekend. Knowing him, he’ll probably do it in style too.

Jairo Torres
I’ve admittedly gotten sick and tired of waiting for Xherdan Shaqiri to really do something, and it’s become clear that he needs help in order to truly make an impact. Fortunately for him, help may have finally arrived.

Jairo Torres technically joined Chicago at the start of May, but it’s taken him some time to get acclimated to life in the Windy City. A minor injury delayed his debut, and he’s since been forced to settle for cameos off the bench. He’s been playing more and more, though, and now it looks like he’ll finally be able to start.

This couldn’t be happening at a more important time. As mentioned earlier, the Fire are really struggling, especially going forward. A flukey three-goal outburst against the New York Red Bulls aside, there’s been almost no attacking output from anyone in the final third. 

That includes Shaqiri, but that might change thanks to Torres. As many Chicago fans know, the main reason for Shaqiri’s struggles has been the fact that he’s being played centrally instead of his more natural position on the right wing. Why is he playing there? Well, there’s not really been anyone else who could fill in.

That is until Torres arrived, though. The Mexican should be able to start this weekend, and if he does, then he’ll almost certainly be used up the middle. He’s got plenty of talent on his own, to be fair, but his ability to free up Shaqiri might prove to be even more vital for the Fire.

If Chicago can’t produce going forward with everyone at their disposal, then it might be time for fans to lose any hope they still had left.

Last time out

These two teams last faced off near the end of the 2021 season in Canada in a game that ultimately didn’t matter at all.

Chicago took the lead early on in fortunate fashion. Fabian Herbers slipped Robert Berić in behind the backline, and his shot took a key deflection before flying past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Toronto then had a huge chance to level the scoring when the referee pointed to the spot following a handball in the area, but Yeferson Soteldo’s ensuing penalty kick attempt was a poor one, and it was saved pretty easily by Gabriel Slonina as a result.

They would tie things up right before the break, though. The ball fell to Marky Delgado on the edge of the area, and he dribbled a few yards forward before going for goal. His shot, just like Berić’s earlier, took a deflection, which is why it ended up beating the goalkeeper.

The hosts came out flying to start the second half, scoring a goal that was ruled out minutes after the break before grabbing one that would stand soon afterwards. A short corner was eventually whipped into the area by Soteldo, and no one picked up the late run of Omar Gonzalez, so he was able to power a header home from just a few yards out.

Toronto would all but seal the result with 20 minutes to go. Jonathan Osorio played Soteldo through on goal, and he made no mistake with the close-range finish, blasting the ball past a relatively helpless Slonina.

That proved to be the end of the scoring of what was ultimately a pretty fun matchup.

 

How to watch

The match kicks off at 7:00 p.m. EDT, and it will air live on TSN1, TSN.ca, and the TSN app for fans in Atlanta and on WGN TV and chicagofirefc.com for fans in Chicago. Those in the United States who aren’t in Chicago will be able to watch the action unfold on ESPN+.

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