MATCH PREVIEW: Timbers look to halt surging Fire at JELD-WEN
The Portland Timbers return home looking for goals when they play host to the Chicago Fire on Sunday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field. The Timbers have played to back-to-back scoreless draws, coming off a 0-0 result in Houston at midweek. The Fire are coming off dramatic back-to-back wins, coming back for a 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City last weekend in their last match.
The Portland Timbers played to a second consecutive scoreless draw, this time with the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Timbers are in ninth place in the Western Conference with 9 points from 10 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Houston, Portland finish scoreless at BBVA
- Quality chances were few and far between for both sides. The Dynamo took 19 attempts at goal; Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins was called upon to make seven saves.
- Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall was credited with two saves.
- Timbers head coach John Spencer made one changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the Columbus Crew at JELD-WEN Field. Steven Smith replaced Mike Chabala at left back.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Jack Jewsbury (Mike Chabala 46), Hanyer Mosquera, Futty Danso, Steven Smith - Franck Songo'o (Eric Alexander 69), Lovel Palmer, Diego Chara, Rodney Wallace (Sal Zizzo 60) - Darlington Nagbe, Kris Boyd.
Timbers preview match against Chicago
The Timbers saw their scoreless drought reach 321 minutes - now the longest this season in Major League Soccer. The last Timbers player to score a goal was Kris Boyd in the 3-1 loss at the LA Galaxy on April 14 - now 427 minutes back. The only goal Portland has scored since was an own goal by Sporting Kansas City.
"I think we had a couple chances to score. On the other end, Troy Perkins came up big for us as well," said Timbers head coach John Spencer. "I'm a little disappointed to come away having not scored. Having been an assistant here and having seen teams wilt under the pressure, I'm pleased that we have come down here twice and put in two very good second half performances."
The Timbers saw a season-low two shots on goal against the Dynamo, from nine total attempts at goal.
"For 75 or 80 minutes we put a lot of pressure on them, had a few good chances -- and on the road when you have a couple good ones you've got to put them away," Portland defender Jack Jewsbury said to the Oregonian. "I thought it was a hard-earned point and step in the right direction."
Following the back-to-back scoreless draws, the Timbers have not allowed a goal in 206 minutes, and have three shutouts in the last four games.
"It's a feather in the hat for the guys in the back to keep a clean sheet on the road. But to come here like that and at least walk away with the point and a shutout is a moral victory for the guys in the back," said goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
But Perkins has not been beaten since a 3-1 loss at the LA Galaxy on April 14. The only two goals the Timbers have conceded since came in the second half in MontrÈal, after Joe Bendik came in for an injured Perkins for the final 23 minutes.
"We're organized," Perkins said. "Guys are talking a lot. They're understanding the philosophy we're trying to get here. They're putting everything they've got on the line."
While the Timbers are still winless on the road this season (0-3-2), the draw was their first after three consecutive losses. Portland's next two games are at JELD-WEN Field.
"I think we battled with them up to 85 minutes. The last five minutes of the game we sat back and tried to soak up as much pressure as we could. They came at us and got a few chances in the last couple minutes," said midfielder Lovel Palmer. It's a good point on the road. We are the first team to come here and get a point. We are just going to go home and build on that."
- Jewsbury was forced from the field at halftime with a hip injury, making a second consecutive start at right back. Mike Chabala came on in his place.
The Chicago Fire concluded their two-game homestand with a second result, coming back for a dramatic 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 9 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Fire notch comeback victory against Sporting
- Sporting KC opened the lead in the 31st minute when Roger Espinoza pulled back a rolling pass from the right corner and Bobby Convey lashed it home first-time from the heart of the penalty area.
- But it all went pear-shaped for the visitors over the final half-hour. First, just after the hour, defender Aurellien Collin took down Dominic Oduro in the penalty area, and Sebastian Grazzini buried the ensuing penalty kick.
- A minute later, SKC went a man down after Roger Espinoza was sent off by referee Jose Carlos Rivero for an elbow to Grazzini's face.
- Sporting were able to hold out until the 81st minute, when Patrick Nyarko picked Kei Kamara's pocket just outside the six-yard box on the end line. Nyarko sent the ball into the path of an onrushing Oduro, and he bundled the ball over the line from six yards out for the winner.
- Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that played to a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park. Jalil Anibaba came in at right back for Dan Gargan.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich (Dan Gargan 29), Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause (Rafael Robayo 71), Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa - Sebastian Grazzini (Federico Puppo 80) - Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro.
Fire preview match against Portland
Four days after the Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake came to Toyota Park and the Fire ground out a draw, the Eastern Conference leaders came to town in Sporting KC - and ended the weekend out of the divisional lead.
"Obviously, it is a very good feeling that we beat a team like this. They're first place in the Eastern Conference," said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. "It gives a lot of confidence to the players, knowing that the work that you put in during the training and the effort that you put in during games gives results. You get confidence from it, but in the end, you have to stay at an even keel. We have to enjoy this moment, but regroup and get ready for the next match in Portland."
The Fire were forced into a vital change before the half-hour mark when Arne Friedrich had to come off with a hamstring strain. Dan Gargan returned to the back four, coming in at right back with Jalil Anibaba moving to central defense.
"It was pretty tight," Friedrich said. "I guess it's because I didn't have a preseason, and I played three games in a week. A couple days before, I felt like the hamstring was a little tired. It's not like a knife in my hamstring, it's just a cramp."
During the week, Friedrich was ruled out for up to four weeks with the injury. Gargan said he should be ready for the Portland match.
"It's something that has been bothering me, but it's also something that's gotten better," Gargan said. "Obviously with the amount of games we had all on top of one another, it's tough to let it heal. These last few days [of rest] have definitely been good for it."
Less than two minutes later, the Fire conceded their first goal from open play since April 28, which was the own goal charged to Friedrich in the 2-1 home loss to Seattle.
"We started well in the game and we lost momentum once Arne came out of the game. It took us some time to adjust because anytime you bring in a new player, though Jalil is not new there, but the last couple of games Arne has played with Austin in that position," said Klopas. "He has leadership and control the backline. When he came out we gave up that fast goal. I thought we lost momentum."
Dominic Oduro scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season, but it was his first since netting the opener in the 3-2 win against Toronto FC on April 21.
"My head was spinning a little bit," Oduro said. "Especially when you get chances and you don't put the ball in the back of the net, it kind of worries you a little bit. But as a professional, you just have to have confidence and stay positive, and eventually it will come."
Patrick Nyarko recorded his second assist on the Oduro game-winner - both of his assists have come on goals from his strike partner.
"It's huge for him. As a striker every time the ball goes into the net it helps build confidence, it makes you feel like you can put the ball in anytime. Dom doesn't lack confidence as it is, but this moves it up to a higher level," said Nyarko. "We need his, and everyone else's, confidence high and to play the way we did in the second half every time and not wait 45 minutes."
- Striker Chris Rolfe has not been able to return to full training since injuring an ankle two days before the Toronto FC match - the day after the Fire re-signed him. "I'm hoping every day that he'll have his shoes on," Klopas said. "I talked to the trainers and I was hoping he'd be on the field this week training. That's the goal, that at the end of this week he's training with the team."
REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Darren Clark; JAR (opposite): Kevin Duliba; 4th: Paul Ward
MLS Career: 45 games; FC/gm: 27.5; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 8; pens: 7
- PORTLAND TIMBERS - QUESTIONABLE: DF Futty Danso (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Jack Jewsbury (pelvic sprain)
- CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis); DF Arne Friedrich (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Chris Rolfe (L ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: POR: Mamadou Danso (through May 20)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: POR: Kris Boyd
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: POR: Lovel Palmer ... CHI: Sebastian Grazzini
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Timbers 2 wins, 5 goals ... Fire 0 wins, 2 goals ... Ties 0
AT PORTLAND (1 meeting): Timbers 1 win, 4 goals ... Fire 0 wins, 2 goals ... Ties 0
4/14: POR 4, CHI 2 (Perlaza 29, 47; Wallace 38; own goal 84 - own goal 66; Pappa 81)
7/16: CHI 0, POR 1 (Jewsbury 25)
- This is the only league meeting between the clubs this season.
- The Timbers won both meetings between the teams in their inaugural MLS campaign, winning 4-2 at Jeld-Wen Field in the first home game for the club, and recording a 1-0 victory at Toyota Park.
- Coaches record: John Spencer v POR: P2 W2 L0 D0 ... Frank Klopas vs. POR: P2 W0 L2 D0