Toronto FC in must-win situation at Chicago

Toronto FC’s playoff hopes will be on the line this Saturday when they visit the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in the suburb of Bridgeview, Illinois.

Although the Reds lost a crucial 2-0 match to Los Angeles last weekend, TFC (9-10-7) have kept their heads above water and are still two games out of Major League Soccer’s postseason.

TFC was able to maintain its position in the tables thanks to New England and Chivas USA producing only single point ties, while Real Salt Lake lost its match. There are only four games left in Toronto’s season.

“We keep saying that we can’t rely on other people,” said head coach Chris Cummins. “It’s up to us to start picking up the points we need; we know that we’re more then capable of doing that.”

Chicago (10-6-10) beat Toronto 2-0 in mid-May at BMO Field.

One of the key pieces in the Fire’s victory was Brian McBride who had shoulder surgery in July. His rehab was surprisingly quick, allowing him to rejoin Chicago on Sept. 12.

“My shoulder’s been good for a while now, feeling wise it’s fine, the strength is very good,” McBride said. “Now it’s more of the fitness side of things and getting my legs right, my timing right.”

Toronto captain Jim Brennan is confident that the match will be tight, even though the Fire are consistently one of the toughest teams in the league

“Chicago is a good side, but we always have a good game against them,” said the defender. “We’re going to be pumping on all cylinders this weekend, we’re going to be going for it.”

Brennan thinks ball movement is one of the most pressing concerns for the Canadian side, especially on offence.

In his mind, getting a more precise touch on the ball could have made the difference last weekend in California.

“I just don’t think we had that penetrating pass that was going to get us in there,” Brennan said.

Toronto will continue to rely on the recently acquired Julian de Guzman, a centre-midfielder for the national team who is renowned for his skill at reading defences and developing a strong attack.

According to TFC’s coach, these will be crucial skills in Saturday’s game.

“We need a little bit more movement up top, we need people running in behind at the right times, we need people bringing other people into the game,” Cummins said.

Toronto’s playoff chances are still very shaky. Sweeping the remaining four games of the regular season guarantees them a spot in the postseason, while three wins may win them a wild card spot.

Coach Cummins knows what’s required of his squad.

“We have to go to Chicago and get something now. That’s the be-all and end of it.”