|Toronto FC’s Danleigh Borman battles for the ball with Dan Gargan of the Chicago Fire in Bridgeview, Ill., on Sunday night. (AFP)
TORONTO - Goals in each half lifted the Chicago Fire to a 2-0 win — its first in 10 matches — that kept the Reds winless on the road and dropped the club to last place in the Eastern Conference.
The Fire was the first to capitalize in the wide-open affair on 16 minutes when Dominic Oduro exploited loose marking inside the area after a Gonzalo Segares cross found Oduro’s near-post run. The Ghanaian’s glancing flick left Milos Kocic rooted as it bounced side netting to give the home side an early advantage.
Casual defending and a lack of urgency was the root cause once again when a familiar face ended any chance of Toronto stealing a point just 20 minutes from time.
After trading him away late last month, former TFC utility man Dan Gargan silenced Toronto’s positive response after being left unmarked at the back post before clinically finishing a corner that inexplicably made its way through a confused Toronto defence to double the advantage.
Coming off a horrible offensive outing during a midweek Champions League match in Panama, the Reds orchestrated a number of opportunities they should have capitalized on in the second half.
Following a number of half-chances to start the game, the Reds struck paint twice following the break and squandered a number of chances that would have changed the entire complexion had they been as opportunistic as the home side.
After scoring two goals from distance in his last two appearances, Julian de Guzman came close to levelling things five minutes after half time when he collected a loose ball at the top of the penalty area. The Canadian international’s near-post drive beat Chicago’s Sean Johnson before striking the inside of the frame and across goal.
With the Chicago ’keeper struggling to get back into position, Joao Plata’s empty net look sailed harmlessly wide, denying the Reds an opening.
With things slipping away deep in the second half, Ryan Johnson came close to pulling one back for TFC 15 minutes from time when he raced onto a Danleigh Borman cross. The Jamaican beat his mark to the spot before sending a powerful header off the outside of the near-post to deny the Reds a way back and ending TFC’s six-game unbeaten run.
The Reds controlled play for stretches but couldn’t turn possession into quality chances in the final third. With Danny Koevermans and Eric Avila missing through injury, TFC lacked the creativeness in midfield it needed to produce a final pass and a more dynamic attacking threat.
Of Toronto’s 13 chances on goal, only two attempts were on target. Other than a few chances early in the match, the Reds rarely threatened inside the box and continuously looked to play wide before sending hopeful balls into the mixer.
After missing Toronto’s Champions League match through suspension, Torsten Frings did little to shore up a TFC back four that looks scattered throughout matches.
As the Reds continue to concede preventable goals in all competition, lackadaisical man-marking and missed assignments were once again to blame on Chicago’s goals with both coming inside 10-metres.
Toronto head coach Aron Winter seemed hesitant to send out a full side with an all-important Champions League match Wednesday night against FC Dallas in Toronto.
Sitting atop Group C following a 2-1 win over Panamanian champion Tauro last Thursday, TFC appears to be moving its attention away from a disastrous league campaign and toward a competition the Reds have a chance of advancing in.
The loss in Chicago all but ends the hunt for the club’s first playoff birth as it now sits just a single place above the Vancouver Whitecaps in the race for the Wooden Spoon.