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Fire’s offense fades in disappointing 1-1 draw

Gale Agbossoumonde;  Chris Rolfe

Gale Agbossoumonde; Chris Rolfe

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Updated: September 12, 2013 12:21AM

TORONTO — For 20 minutes the Fire played with requisite aggression and skill and looked poised to secure a necessary road victory — until reverting to some bad habits.

The Fire struck first but failed to sustain the edge and left BMO Field here with another disappointing result in a 1-1 draw against a developing Toronto FC team near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

It was the fourth consecutive game the Fire (10-11-6, 36 points) scored just a lone goal. The team is just 1-1-2 in those games and remains a point behind New England and Houston for the final playoff spot.

“We haven’t been able to score two goals in a game and we haven’t been able to get a shutout,” star forward Mike Magee said. “This has been a very frustrating stretch.”

Midfielder Dilly Duka provided the early adrenaline rush when he caught a through ball from Chris Rolfe and punched in a shot from about 16 yards out that eluded TFC keeper Joe Bendik in the 20th minute. “I received the ball in the middle of the field, and I saw Mike [Magee], and I got a bit of a fortunate bounce there,” Duka said.

The lead held for just three minutes. TFC converted the equalizer as forward Robert Earnshaw controlled a cross from midfielder Bobby Convey and smashed in a short ball by Fire keeper Sean Johnson. “We made a [defensive] mistake and let them get the momentum,” Fire coach Frank Klopas said. “From there, it just became more difficult to get control back.”

Toronto (4-13-11, 23 points) dominated the balance of the first half. Midfielder Alvaro Rey hit the crossbar in the 45th minute. “We played well for the first 20 minutes, and then unfortunately, we just went into a shell,” Duka said. “We stopped playing and let them have that goal and get back into the game.”

The Fire created the best scoring opportunity late in the second half. Klopas made some strategic line-up changes that provided a burst of energy. Quincy Amarikwa, replacing midfielder Patrick Nyarko in the 56th minute, broke free for a one-on-one play that Bendik alertly rushed out and blocked the shot with his left leg.

Bendik recorded three saves. Johnson was credited with two stops.

Forward Chris Rolfe also had a shot just curve wide left.

“It’s just so important being able to score that second goal during a game in this league,” Klopas said. “It’s just crucial.”

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