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Toronto FC will have to work Saturday night to keep a clean sheet against the Chicago Fire.
The Reds are still winless in six consecutive Major League Soccer games, but they recorded a five-game loss streak last Saturday with a 2-2 draw at DC United and recorded a 2-1 win over the Halifax Wanderers in the Canadian Championships on Tuesday night. quarterfinals. So things are going up a bit.
There is, however, a question of clean sheets, and no doubt TFC coach Bob Bradley is getting tired of being asked about it. The draw against United last Saturday marked the 21st consecutive MLS game without a shutout, tying the club record set just before this run. TFC conceded 25 goals in 13 games, the most in the Eastern Conference. After every game and practice, Bradley and his players are asked about a shut-out. A few weeks ago, TFC keeper Alex Bono said the long run without a clean slate keeps him up at night. When asked on Friday about his club’s lack of shutouts, Bradley again patiently explained that clean sheets are something that happens when a club plays good football on both sides of the field, and his injury-free team is still not there. . †
“I always watch how you defend with attack. It wouldn’t work if I suddenly decided all that mattered was trying to keep the zero and now defend, defend, defend, defend, defend, defend and even do nothing close to get a (scoring) chance get,” he said. “To become a good team you have to have a mix of how you move forward, how you create opportunities – and I think we also have to improve that. But we are definitely fair when we look at things.
“Inside, we don’t really sound like social media when we talk about how to get better, but we’re not missing anything either. So should we find more ways to defend better in games? Absolute. But think about what defend means. Defending means that in certain cases, when we move forward, we are better with our choices and decisions. And when we get closer to the penalty area, we score goals or complete actions. Defending means that as we move forward, the way we move up as a team allows us to control the transition and do a good job so that we are in a good position when the ball turns. We have to keep improving in every way we can.”
Saturday’s game at BMO Field provides a good opportunity for Bradley’s attacks to end that streak as the Fire has scored an MLS low 11 times in 13 games and is last in the Eastern Conference with 11 points ( 2W 6L 5D), one point for TFC (3W 7L 3L). The Fire’s scoreless streak was extended to nine games (D3 L6) after a 1-0 loss to NYCFC last Sunday. On the other hand, Chicago is a club that has played a lot of close games and there is a feeling that the guys from the Windy City deserve better than the record shows.
“Chicago has a solid structure in the way they play. (They had a) big acquisition with (Xherdan) Shaqirih,” Bradley said of the Fire’s freshman winger from Lyon. “They are well organized defensively. And at the beginning of the year you saw a lot of hard fought tight games and they are still working on that to figure out exactly what they are and how they can improve in a lot of different areas.”
“We expect a fight, a fight,” added TFC Jordan Perruzza. “They have a lot of talented players, just like us, who are trying to find ways to win both on the road and at home. So we’re just expecting a fight.”
TFC is undefeated in its last 13 games against the Fire (W10 D3) dating back to September 2015 – the longest undefeated run against an opponent in TFC history and is one of the MLS regular season record of 14 straight without a defeat to a single opponent, done four times.
Jonathan Osorio scored his third goal of the season in TFC’s draw with DC last Saturday, scoring six times against the Fire in the MLS game, more than against any other opponent in his career, although the last of those goals scored more than three. years ago, in April 2019. The Brampton native scored the winning goal in Toronto’s 2-1 win over Halifax on Tuesday.
RED IS SLOWLY GETTING HEALTH
Both midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo and fullback Kadin Chung were back in training with the team on Friday and Bradley suggested they are options for Saturday’s game. Pozuelo, the 2020 MLS MVP, last played on May 8. Both had lower-body injuries — the same with 17-year-old phenom Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, who was also on the BMO Training Ground field Friday, training alone. Bradley said the Brampton resident is “doing more and more”. Veteran defender Chris Mavinga has also been training alone on the pitch and, like midfielder Noble Okello, has a long way to go before he plays.
TFC II DRAWS GREAT TALENT
TFC II has signed Hugo Mbongue, brother of TFC midfielder Ralph Priso, to an MLS NEXT Pro contract. Mbongue, 17, recently played five games for TFC II in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. He scored his first goal and first support for the Young Reds in the 2022 Home Opener against New York City FC II on April 10 and is currently the team’s joint leader in goals (three) and assists (three).