Fire-Toronto FC Preview
Toronto FC is off to the worst start in franchise history, but
it hopes to receive a lift from the return of its captain this
Midfielder Torsten Frings is expected back in the lineup
Saturday when Toronto hosts a Chicago Fire team that will be
without Chris Rolfe, who was signed this week to spark a struggling
Toronto’s early woes continued with a 1-0 loss to Chivas USA
last Saturday – the third time it’s been shut out this year – as
the club dropped to 0-5.
That surpasses the worst start in franchise history, set in
Toronto’s first season of 2007. That team avoided a fifth straight
loss to open the season with a home victory over Chicago.
Toronto hopes history can repeat itself this weekend, but the
club has struggled on both ends of the pitch, getting outscored
10-2 in MLS play and 20-9 in all matches.
Coach Aron Winter has tried to shake things up, moving highly
paid but struggling designated player Julian de Guzman to the
bench. He did not see any playing time against Chivas.
“You’re making choices for the balance of the team,” Winter
said. “Only 11 players can be in the lineup.”
Frings is expected to be one of those Saturday. He dressed last
weekend for the first time since straining a hamstring March
“He makes the rest of the players around him play more at ease,
more confident,” said defenseman Adrian Cann, who returned last
weekend from a torn ACL that kept him out for much of last season.
“Playing alongside him, it feels nice knowing that he has the
experience and knows what to do with the ball once he receives
The injury news wasn’t all good this week, however, with forward
Nick Soolsma out Saturday due to a sore hamstring.
Frings’ return comes against fellow German international Arne
Friedrich, who recently signed a one-year deal with Chicago and
made his MLS debut last week.
The Fire (1-1-2) signed Friedrich, a veteran of two World Cups,
during the offseason, but he wasn’t in game shape until the past
week. His addition to the lineup came as the Fire learned they’d be
without Cory Gibbs for the next four months after he underwent knee
Chicago is off to a poor start as well, with its only win coming
against Philadelphia on March 24. It settled for a 1-all draw with
Houston on Sunday in a match shortened 66 minutes due to
Looking for an offensive boost with three goals on the year,
Chicago brought back one of the franchise’s all-time players in
Rolfe, who last played with the Fire in 2009. The forward, who had
40 goals in 149 matches for Chicago over 2005-09, had been playing
for Denmark’s Aalborg, scoring six goals in 32 matches over three
However, Rolfe’s return has been delayed after he suffered a
minor ankle injury in training this week.
“I’m disappointed not to be ready for Toronto,” Rolfe said. “But
… I’m working to be back very soon.”
Chicago has gone 1-0-2 in its last three against Toronto,
posting two shutouts. The teams played to a 2-all draw in Toronto