Chad Barrett scored his first two goals of the season as Toronto FC took advantage of cold, windy and rainy conditions at BMO Field to beat the Chicago Fire 4-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Wind gusts were recorded at about 80 km/h, causing the ball to float unpredictably in the air.
TFC took advantage of this in the first half, when Nick LaBrocca scored inadvertently in the 24th minute on a cross that he swung into the box. The ball curled towards the goal, and sailed over Chicago keeper Andrew Dykstra into the net.
O'Brien White, brought on as a substitute in the second half, also scored for TFC, who improved to 3-4. Chicago fell to 2-2-3.
"This is a huge win today," Barrett said. "Hopefully this brings out a lot of confidence in the team."
Toronto seemed to adjust to the wind conditions better than its opponents, gaining a key advantage from the blustery weather near Lake Ontario.
Players on both sides had trouble controlling passes when running with the wind, as the ball tended to fall too far ahead of their targets.
"Chasing down the wind was really difficult in the first half. I thought it was much easier [against the wind] in the second half," Barrett said.
TFC Coach Preki drew up a game plan to deal with the adverse conditions.
"We just tried to make sure we played the ball on the ground as much as we can," he said. "I told them to find the holes. Certainly we had nice combinations on the goals."
Chicago's Logan Pause scored the Fire's only goal in the 50th minute, using the tailwind on a shot from well outside the 18-yard box.
Pause's strike from about 40 yards floated over top of TFC keeper Stefan Frei and dipped just under the crossbar.
It came just minutes after White put TFC up 2-0 in the 46th minute, converting a nice pass along the ground from Dwayne De Rosario. White and De Rosario played a quick 1-2 just inside the Chicago penalty area, evading the Fire defenders with perfect passes.
Barrett finally shows finish
White also played a role in setting up Barrett's first goal of the match in the 66th minute, which essentially sealed the victory.
Barrett carefully directed White's pass into the goal using the side of his left foot. The 25-year-old striker had been snake-bitten for the first six games of the season, and he used extra care to make sure he converted on his opportunities against the Fire.
The insurance marker came in the 69th minute when De Rosario sent a through ball up the middle that Barrett chased down, before taking a clean touch and chipping it over Dykstra's outstretched arms into the net.
"It's great to see guys setting up Barrett," De Rosario said.
"It's just great to see guys scoring. We have to try to keep the guys upbeat and bring the same mentality and same determination on the road."
All three of TFC's victories have come at home, while the Reds have struggled on the road, going 0-4.
Toronto's next match is Wednesday in Montreal, as part of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. Then they play the MLS leaders, Los Angeles Galaxy, on May 15.