The Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers match ended in a close draw Saturday night as the two played in their ninth all-time meeting. With over 14,000 people in attendance on Saturday night, Toyota Park was filled with enthusiastic Chicago soccer fans praying for a win against the defending MLS Cup Champions.
The Timbers have gone undefeated in the last eight matches between the two, three of which ended in ties. This was the first meeting between the two teams since August of 2015, a match played at Providence Park during the regular season.
The Timbers started off the match strong, dominating the field and holding the ball in their attacking third for the first few minutes of the game. In response, the Fire was able to establish and maintain their composure, playing a 4-3-3 with a flat back.
The first shot on target of the game was not until the sixth minute. It came from the foot of the Fire’s Arturo Alvarez, but it was blocked by Jake Gleeson. There was only one other goal attempt before the Timbers’ Diego Valeri was able to make it past the Fire’s Radrigo Ramos and Johan Kappelhof, both of who jumped in to defend too early. From the goal line, Valeri was able to strike and curve the ball out into the six-yard box, around the Fire’s starting goalie, Sean Johnson, and into the back right corner of the net in the end of the 17th minute.
Chicago immediately responded with a goal in the 19th minute by left forward David Accam. Accam was assisted by the center attacker Kennedy Igboananike, who leads Chicago in goals and continued to create opportunities for the team the rest of the match.
The half ended with the Fire only having seven shots on goal and the Timbers with only five. The Timbers were, however, able to maintain more possession, as they held the ball for 58.6% of the time compared to the Fire’s 41.4%.
The second half was filled with excitement, as the Fire tried to find the back of the net to finally pull out a win against the Timbers. Portland entered this match having a 1-0-1 record against the team and coming off of their largest scoring output of the season against Vancouver, while the Fire had only won one of their last four matches.
Accam made some great attacking efforts, even stealing the ball from the Timbers captain and defender Liam Ridgewell during a slow-paced clearance attempt in the Timbers’ defensive third. Accam proved to be a great asset during this game, having the most shots on goal, and utilizing his tremendous speed to pose a threat to Portland’s defense. Despite a goalless second half, the game ended with a burst of intensity when a foul was issued for the Chicago Fire 22 yards from the goal during stoppage time. The ensuing shot flew just inches above the crossbar, ending the game on a disappointing note for the Chicago fans.
The Chicago Fire are now tenth in the Eastern Conference, while the Timbers are eighth in the Western. The Timbers are ranked second overall for chances created, including assists. They are also tied for fourth for goals scored in this 2016 season.
Chicago’s next match is June 18th where they will face the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park as the Fire try to redeem themselves and help boost their place in the Eastern Conference table. Portland will meet the San Jose Earthquakes at Providence Park Tuesday evening where they will compete with the sixth-place team in the Western Conference, trying to build off their already impressive statistics.