Portland Timbers vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

March 16, 2014 (WEEK 2, MLS Game #15)
Noon PT (UniMas; ROOT-NW; My 50 Chi)

Another interconference matchup is ahead when the Portland Timbers take on the Chicago Fire on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park. It’s a second consecutive home game for the Timbers, who opened their season with a last-gasp 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union last weekend. The Fire remain on the West Coast for a second consecutive week, starting off their season with a 3-2 loss at Chivas USA.


REFEREE: Marcos de Oliveira. SAR (bench): Isreal Fernandez; JAR (opposite): Brandon Major; 4th: Bernard Hosu
MLS Career: First game.


ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Timbers 3 wins, 9 goals … Fire 0 wins, 5 goals … Ties 1
AT PORTLAND (2 meetings): Timbers 2 wins, 6 goals … Fire 0 wins, 3 goals … Ties 0

6/8: CHI 2, POR 2 (Magee 68; Paladini 82 – Valeri 33; Zemanski 58)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The Timbers have never lost to the Fire, with three wins and a draw in four meetings all-time. The Timbers’ three-game winning streak vs. Chicago was ended last year, as the teams reached a 2-2 draw at Toyota Park.
  • The Timbers have won both meetings all-time between the clubs in Portland, the last a 2-1 victory in 2012.
  • Coaches record: Caleb Porter vs. PHI: P1 W0 L0 T1 … Frank Yallop vs. POR: P7 W0 L2 T5

The Portland Timbers came back to grab a point from their 2014 season opener, getting a late equalizer for a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at Providence Park. The Timbers are in sixth place in the Western Conference with 1 point from 1 game.


  • After having a shot cleared off the line in the first half by Timbers defender Norberto Paparatto, Union finally broke through in the 64th minute. From a corner kick, Maurice Edu flicked a header across the goalmouth that Jack McInerney headed home for the opener.
  • But the home side dramatically equalized four minutes into second-half stoppage time. Will Johnson took a quick corner kick from the right that took a deflection before falling to Gaston Fernandez for a header and the point-saving tally.
  • Timbers head coach started the season with Gaston Fernandez on the left side of his side’s three-pronged attack, and Norberto Paparatto filling a spot in central defense.
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-1-2-3): Donovan Ricketts - Jack Jewsbury (Steve Zakuani 85), Pa Modou Kah (Mamadou Danso 34), Norberto Paparatto, Michael Harrington - Diego Valeri - Diego Chara, Will Johnson - Darlington Nagbe, Maximiliano Urruti (Kalif Alhassan 73), Gaston Fernandez.


  • A year ago, the Timbers scored 16 goals from the 76th minute onward, tied for third-most in MLS. Four of those came in stoppage time, two of which snatched late points (a win and a draw).
  • “We scored one last year against LA Galaxy to win the game at the final whistle. It’s the last kick of the game,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “I give our guys a lot of credit for pulling out a point. You can look at it one of two ways: we lost two points or we pulled out a point. We’re going to build on the positive, to pull out a point because, under the circumstances, I think almost everybody thought that the game was over. That’s what this team is capable of.”
  • Last season, the Timbers conceded 11 goals from set pieces, tied for fourth-most in MLS (two behind the LA Galaxy).
  • “In every game we’ve played, we’ve been the better team in terms of controlling the game. We haven’t been producing goals as well as we need to, but it’s not because of a lack of chances or a lack of control of the game,” said Porter. “We’ve obviously given up a few set-pieces, but we’ll correct that the best we can. In the end, if we give up a few set-pieces, but we don’t give up many goals total, I’ll take that. If we give up a ton of goals and none of them are set-pieces, that is not any better. Ultimately, I don’t think we are going to give up many goals this year, that’s more of our focus.”
  • In his MLS debut, Gaston Fernandez scored the lone Timbers goal and played the full 90 minutes in a wide attacking role.
  • “I think part of scoring goals is confidence. For him, to get that first one, hopefully that gets him rolling,” said Porter. “We need to get [Diego] Valeri his first one and [Darlington] Nagbe his first one as well. Like I said, once we do, this team is capable of scoring goals, there’s no doubt about it.”
  • There was an early forced substitution when defender Pa Modou Kah had to come off with a hamstring injury, replaced by Futty Danso.

The Chicago Fire weren’t able to come back from a second-half hole, falling 3-2 to Chivas USA on Sunday afternoon at StubHub Center to open the new season. The Fire have 0 points from 1 game.


  • Chivas USA took the lead early in the second half when Erick Torres was pulled down in the box by Fire defender Gonzalo Segares. Torres stepped up to convert the penalty, giving Chivas the lead in the 56th minute.
  • Rookie Thomas McNamara then doubled Chivas’ lead in the 59th minute, when he slotted home a cross from the left flank from Leandro Barrera.
  • But the Fire pulled level midway through the second half through a pair of substitutes. Benji Joya got his first MLS goal in his first minute on the field, when he scored on a rebound from an Alex shot in the 64th minute.
  • Then another Fire substitute, Quincy Amarikwa, hit a beautiful curling shot past an outstretched Dan Kennedy to tie the game at 2-2 with 20 minutes to play.
  • But Chivas hit for the game-winner in the 88th minute. Defender Bobby Burling headed past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson in traffic off a Mauro Rosales corner kick to give the home side the full complement of points.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop ran out a new-look back four in his first match of charge of the club, featuring Lovel Palmer and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-4-1): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Gonzalo Segares - Jeff Larentowicz - Dilly Duka, Alex, Chris Rolfe (Logan Pause 75), Patrick Nyarko (Benji Joya 63) - Juan Luis Anangono (Quincy Amarikwa 57).


  • The Fire opened their season with a loss for a second consecutive season, and have not won their first match since 2009.
  • “We were poor. I thought our whole demeanor wasn’t what we’ve seen and worked on in preseason. Just very disappointing,” said Yallop. “Having said that, coming back and tying the game 2-2, we fought back, kept going, got back to tie the game, and to give up a set play like that is poor on our behalf. We’ve got to learn from it, we got to move on, but very disappointing.”
  • Newcomer Benji Joya scored 49 seconds into his Fire debut, netting the Fire opener with his first touch of the game. Joya becomes the 10th Fire player to score in his debut appearance for the club.
  • “He scored a goal, he did well. He’s young; you’re going to get young decisions. He had a couple of fouls where I thought maybe he shouldn’t have dived in, but he did fine,” said Yallop. Said Joya: “All I’ve put in my mind is to get the debut and get a goal and get my name on the score sheet and luckily, the first touch I had today turned into a goal and I’m really proud of that.”
  • In the final match of the 2013 season, the Fire were hit for five goals by the New York Red Bulls. With newcomers Lovel Palmer and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in a new-look back four, the Fire conceded three goals.
  • “Every time you give up three goals, you can’t say you’re figured out too well. Our goal this season was not to concede as many goals, and today we gave up three so you can’t say we did a good job,” said defender Bakary Soumare. “We worked really hard; the coaching staff has done a great job with the backline, working on defense. We know we conceded three goals today and we’re not happy about that.”
  • The Fire conceded 13 goals after the 76th minute in 2013, one of those coming in stoppage time. “Losing is terrible, it never feels good no matter how you look at it. For us as a group, we have to make sure that we don’t buckle under and we’re ready for the fight until the last minute of the game. If you’re not ready to fight, then we’re in trouble,” said Yallop.
  • Mike Magee, the MLS Most Valuable Player a season ago, did not play in the season opener.
  • “To be honest, he’s still a bit injured, so I didn’t want to risk him in this game. We said maybe, but I had already put Logan [Pause] on, Chris Rolfe was cramping, and we had already used all our subs,” said Yallop. “Mike was good for maybe ten minutes but we had to change it a little bit. It is what it is. I think Mike wanted to be part of it today and I did as well, but I didn’t want to risk it and give him 25 minutes when he probably only had 10 in him, and his hamstring is still a little bit tight, so I didn’t want to go there.”

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