On Saturday afternoon, Toronto FC will travel to Chicago to take on the Fire at Toyota Park. Looking for their first win since their opening match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto will have both Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore back in the lineup. However, they will likely have to do without the services of their starting two centre backs once again.
More from Chicago Fire
- The Chicago Fire does not deserve your support anymore
- Chicago Fire and the Pursuit of Robert Lewandowski
- Xherdan Shaqiri in Chicago Fire’s MLS 2023 Concluded Season
- New York City FC 1-0 Chicago Fire: Bury me softly
- Chicago Fire 0-2 Charlotte FC: Unserious behavior
On Thursday in training, Greg Vanney confirmed to the media that the team’s former captain, Steven Caldwell was definitely out of Saturday’s game, while Polish international Damien Perquis was unlikely to feature in the match. As a result, Toronto will probably go with Nick Hagglund and Clement Simonin in the centre of defense for the second consecutive week.
Hagglund was drafted 10th overall in last year’s MLS SuperDraft and appeared in 25 games last season for the Reds, starting in 23 of them.
Simonin was selected once spot higher than Hagglund in this year’s MLS SuperDraft at 9th overall. The pick shocked most at the time, including Simonin himself. TFC Pitchside caught up with the youngster after training on Thursday and the 23-year-old mentioned how he was “expecting to go in the fourth round”.
Simonin made his first professional start a couple of weeks ago for Toronto FC II in their first ever match, but only a week later he was asked to start for the MLS side on national television in both Canada and the United States, against Real Salt Lake last week. Head coach, Greg Vanney has been very high on the defender as he is great with the ball on his feet and his confidence in Simonin has already started to bare fruit. He was easily one of Toronto’s best players on the pitch in Sandy. Utah last week and can’t be blamed for either of the two goals the team conceded.
Having the aforementioned Altidore and Bradley back will also be a big boost for a team who has lost two consecutive matches. The two were away on international duty last week, but were both in training on Thursday and spoke to the media following practice.
“I was screaming at 4 am in my hotel room in Zurich,” Altidore told the press when asked about whether he watched last week’s TFC game. “I watched the whole game, and it was difficult. I thought the boys played well, and we deserved something out of the game. But unfortunately, sometimes some things go not our way at this point. But there was some good starting points we can carry on from on Saturday.”
While the team gets Altidore and Bradley back, they lose Luke Moore who was suspended for a dangerous tackle in last weekend’s match. Expect former American international, Robert Findley to partner his compatriot up top for the Reds.
Indeed, it may be far too early in the season to label any games as a must win, but Saturday’s contest certainly has that feel to it for Toronto considering they still have three more additional road games to play before they finally open a newly renovated and expanded BMO Field on May 10th.