Toronto FC-Fire Preview
The Chicago Fire are vying for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff berths after beating two teams that are out of contention.
They'll try to make it three in a row this weekend.
The Fire will look to maintain their hold on a postseason spot with a win over Toronto FC on Saturday night in their final home game of the regular season.
Chicago (13-12-7) is one of three teams in the East sitting on 46 points, but currently holds the tiebreaker over Philadelphia with one more win than the sixth-place Union (12-10-10). Montreal, which also has 46 points, hosts Philadelphia on Saturday.
The Fire have won their last two matches to move ahead of Philly, which is 1-0-1 in its previous two.
Chicago beat last-place D.C. United 3-0 on Oct. 4 then held on for a 3-2 victory over FC Dallas last Saturday. Jalil Anibaba gave Chicago a 3-0 lead in the 52nd minute with his first goal of the season before Dallas' Kenny Cooper responded with a pair in a 12-minute span later in the second half.
Mike Magee, tied for the league lead with 19 goals, got his 13th in 20 games since being acquired from Los Angeles when a ball deflected in off his midsection.
"(The two wins) are huge, especially for our confidence," Magee said. "With our backs up against the wall, we got some points. Now, coming back home, we're still desperate. We need to keep that mentality that we can win anywhere."
The Fire can't afford a letup against Toronto (5-16-11), which is 1-6-3 in its last 10 and couldn't build on that lone victory in its previous game.
After easing past D.C. 4-1 on Sept. 28, Toronto lost 1-0 in Philadelphia on a stoppage-time goal. With goalkeeper Joe Bendik suspended for drawing two yellow cards in that game, Stefan Frei is expected to make his first start since Sept. 24, 2011.
Frei was Toronto's starter for three seasons before sitting out in 2012 because of leg and ankle injuries. He was set to be the No. 1 keeper this year until breaking his nose in the preseason. With his contract ending after 2013, this could be Frei's final appearance for the team.
"Stefan Frei is such a consummate professional. Every day he comes and works like it is a game day for him. So this is what he has been building up for and I have absolutely no concerns about him being ready," goalkeeping coach Stewart Kerr told the league's website.
Frei will try to help Toronto end a seven-game winless skid in the series (0-4-3). The club snapped a string of four straight losses to Chicago with a 1-all draw Sept. 11 in Canada.
Chicago's Dilly Duka scored the opening goal in the 20th minute, but Toronto's Robert Earnshaw got the equalizer three minutes later.
The Fire are 3-0-3 all-time at home against Toronto FC after winning the past two matchups there.