Saturday, September 26, 2009


The Chicago Fire are down to four regular-season games remaining, including two at home. The first of those two takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Toronto FC at Toyota Park (televised on My50).

Toronto (9-10-7, 34 points) still is working in its recent designated player signing (Julian de Guzman). Chicago's DP, however, could be absent with a hamstring injury. Cuauhtemoc Blanco will be a question mark for Chicago (10-6-10, 40 points), and with John Thorrington still out with a groin injury, the Fire's midfield will be hoping for the types of contributions that 23-year-old Peter Lowry (pictured) provided last week against the Columbus Crew.

Defensive outside back Gonzalo Segares was taken off the injury report, though a Saturday appearance could be rushing things a bit. Mike Banner, while a bit unconventional at left back, is holding his own.

Toronto boasts a pretty solid midfield group led by the dangerous Dwayne De Rosario, who has 10 goals this season. De Guzman's MLS impact remains to be seen solely for the fact that he has only played in one match and is quickly adapting to his team's tendencies. But with his international experience, de Guzman obviously is expected to be a big threat. Then you have Honduran international Amado Guevara, who leads Toronto with six assists and is behind De Rosario with five goals.

On May 16, the Fire topped the Reds, 2-0, at BMO Field with goals from second-half sub Chris Rolfe and Brian McBride, and three saves from Jon Busch for the clean sheet.

That match happened to be the last time McBride scored a goal, his league-leading sixth of the season. He went through a drought and then spent a couple months away from the team with a shoulder injury.

McBride still is trying to find his timing out there, and clearly Chicago needs him to be the main weapon who can either fight for some hard-nosed goals or draw defenders to set up the likes of Rolfe and Marco Pappa.

Toronto needs this game more than the Fire in terms of setting itself up for the postseason. But the scale is in Chicago's favor as the Fire appeared to have found some good form last week against the Eastern Conference-leading Crew, even though the match ended in a draw. Chicago Fire 2, Toronto FC 1

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CLICK HERE for's Week 28 MLS preview, which includes a quick look at former Fire goalkeeper Zach Thornton's rejuvenated campaign.

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