Jesus Jimenez scores as Toronto FC beat Chicago in pre-season game

A goal from new Spanish striker Jesus Jimenez gave Toronto FC a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire in the MLS pre-season on Saturday.

The weather didn’t cooperate with cool conditions, let alone a downpour, at St. David’s Performance Center, Austin FC’s training facility. The coaches were bundled up on the sidelines, with toques.

The game was paused after 30 minutes due to lightning in the area. The team treated the break as half-time and continued playing on their return, changing sides at around 50 minutes.

Toronto improved to 3-1-0 in exhibition play under new coach Bob Bradley, who overhauled the roster after taking over following a dismal 6-18-10 season.

Jimenez scored in the 56th minute, capping a fine Toronto build-up involving Jacob Shaffelburg, Jayden Nelson and Alejandro Pozuelo. Shaffelburg’s low cross found Pozuelo and the Spanish playmaker fed neighbor Jimenez, who turned and scored from close range.

A few minutes later, Chicago goaltender Gabriel Slonina made a good save to prevent Nelson.

Jimenez and Mexican defenseman Carlos Salcedo, another recent signing, both started in Toronto.

There were moments of anxiety for Toronto when Salcedo fell in the 64th minute and needed treatment. He limped off the field on his own as both teams made big changes.

Toronto had more ball possession early in the game, but Chicago came close in the 46th minute when a diving Toronto goalkeeper, Alex Bono, had to fend off Mauricio Pineda’s low shot. Bono then stopped a shot on the rebound and a Toronto teammate managed to clear the ball just wide of the goal post.

Greg Ranjitsingh, replacing Bono in goal, made an acrobatic save with his leg in the 77th minute to prevent Jhon Jader Duran after the 18-year-old Colombian striker was placed behind the Toronto defense. Ranjitsingh arrested Duran again a few minutes later.

Toronto split its first two preseason games, losing 5-4 to the Los Angeles Galaxy and beating Los Angeles FC 2-1 in California. Toronto beat Austin FC 2-1 on Wednesday.

Toronto ends its camp in Austin ahead of its February 26 season opener at FC Dallas. TFC takes on Houston on Wednesday in its penultimate preseason game.

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