Fire versus Toronto preview
Toronto FC hasn't lost since its coach resigned last month, and the Chicago Fire are the only remaining unbeaten team in MLS.
Still, neither club has been happy with its results lately.
The Fire will be looking for a victory to snap a league-record streak of five consecutive draws Saturday, when they visit a Toronto FC team coming off back-to-back ties in MLS play.
Chicago has turned the momentum from an appearance in the Eastern Conference final against Columbus last year into a good start to 2009, but the club's strong play has not been paying off like the Fire (2-0-6) would hope in the standings. They're only third in the East despite being the league's lone team that has yet to lose.
Last Saturday's 1-1 draw against New England was especially frustrating, as the banged-up Revolution were visiting Bridgeview coming off back-to-back losses by a combined 8-0 score.
Despite outshooting New England 12-5, Chicago allowed the equalizer early in the second half and set the MLS record within one season with a fifth consecutive tie. One more draw would match the Fire's total from all of last season.
"These ties are starting to feel like losses. We're undefeated, which is one good thing, but we need to turn these ties into wins," Fire midfielder John Thorrington said. "This feeling is getting very old. I've never been on a team that's had so much good play for so many minutes and not prevail. It's incredibly frustrating for all of us, but that just means we're going to have to work that much harder to turn this thing around."
Perhaps most disconcerting for Chicago is that goalie Jon Busch has earned only one shutout after he racked up 10 in 30 games last year. Fire coach Denis Hamlett has expressed his displeasure with his team's defensive play, which has been worse on the road, with seven goals allowed in four matches.
Defense was a problem at Toronto on Oct. 18, when the Fire lost 3-2, allowing all three goals in the first half in the most recent meeting between the teams.
Toronto FC (3-2-4) finished 6-2-7 at home last year, and has begun 2-1-2 at BMO Field this season.
The club is 1-0-2 overall in MLS play since coach John Carver resigned on April 25, with Chris Cummins taking his post on an interim basis. But its 3-3 draw at D.C. last Saturday was difficult to swallow after United scored on a penalty kick in injury time.
"You look at the players after the game and they're disappointed," Cummins said. "I'm sure if you would have asked them before the game they would have taken this result, but they're disappointed and I like that."
There were still positive signs, especially from midfielder Dwayne De Rosario. The Toronto native, in his first season with his hometown club, scored twice in the second half to give him three goals on the year.
Toronto FC will have its fitness tested after playing an extra game for the second straight week, beating the Montreal Impact 1-0 on Wednesday in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.