Chicago Fire were held to their ninth draw in Major League Soccer this season, at home to ten-man Toronto FC on Wednesday night.
Luke Moore was sent off in the 29th minute, but the Reds’ spirits weren’t dampened in an Illinois downpour and they went ahead through Jackson. Harry Shipp scored a second-half leveller but Chicago couldn’t force a second goal.
Though the visitors may go away the happier team, they are still yet to register a win at Toyota Park.
Toronto hold the worst record in the division in terms of both passing and possession, and that was evident in the opening 25 minutes where some impressive wing-play was hampered by a consistently poor end product.
The hosts had looked equally toothless in attack, but they were soon assisted by Moore’s dismissal. The former Aston Villa man jumped with Chris Ritter for a high ball and caught the Fire man with his elbow. The 23-year-old’s teammates immediately championed for a red card and referee Jorge Gonzalez eventually bowed to their wishes.
Though the Canadian side now had nothing in the shape of a forward outlet and came under increased pressure, it took until the 40th minute for Chicago’s first clear-cut opportunity.
Steven Cauldwell made a mess of clearing an out-swinging ball in his own six-yard box and Quincy Amarikwa pounced, firing into the side-netting.
But against all odds, the Reds then took the lead.
Jermain Defoe chased a seemingly aimless clearance down the right channel and managed to work room to float in a dangerous delivery. Brazilian Jackson found himself unmarked and nodded past Sean Johnson’s desperate dive.
The Fire looked for an instant riposte but Ritter side-footed straight at Joe Bendik. Meanwhile, the visitors were incensed on the stroke of half-time as Amarikwa was cautioned for clattering Caldwell in the head with a stray boot – a challenge they felt held a significant resemblance to Moore’s earlier on.
Frank Yallop’s men felt they should have had been given a chance to equalise six minute after the interval. Amarikwa’s magical run past several challenges allowed him to get a shot away, and though Bendik blocked, he spilled Lovel Palmer’s goal-bound diversion. In a packed penalty area a Toronto defender nudged the ball back into his goalkeeper’s hands for an apparently obvious back-pass, but was unpunished.
Former Portland Timbers stopper Bendik saved from a Mike Magee free-kick, before Amarikwa planted a header wide of the far past. However, a home goal wasn’t long in coming.
A short-set piece led to rookie Shipp having room to shoot 20 yards from goal, and via two deflections the ball flew into the roof of the net. This was the youth graduate’s sixth strike of the season, to add to half a dozen assists.
With the Reds in danger of drowning under Chicago pressure, Juan Luis Anangono thought he’d scored to separate the sides. Magee’s deep centre was flicked on by a defender to the waiting Colombian at the back post. He prodded the ball across the line, but his celebrations were cut short by a correct offside call.
Bendik then had to be alert to hold onto a whipped cross, and Anangono and Palmer both flashed efforts inches off target.
Incredibly, Toronto almost stole victory in stoppage time. Countering after defending a corner at the other end, Jackson slipped in Dominic Oduro who brought a fine reaction save from Johnson.
Rather than looking for a winner from the resulting corner though, the big-spending Ontario natives decided to protect a hard-earned point and held on for their sixth game without defeat.
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