The Chicago Fire (2-6-12, 18 points) were twice denied by the woodwork and tested goalkeeper Troy Perkins eight times but it wasn’t enough to make up for Jack Jewsbury’s 25th minute penalty as they fell 1-0 to the Portland Timbers (6-9-3, 21 points) Saturday night at Toyota Park.
Both sides experienced tentative moments at the start but the Fire looked to take the advantage early as Timbers starting center back Kevin Goldthwaite came off in the 10th minute with a left knee injury.
Despite having to make an early sub, it was Portland who had the first real chance of the match when Diego Chara picked up a loose ball at the top of the 18, cut into the box and tried to poke a shot under charging Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. The second-year ‘keeper was up for the challenge and corralled the ball to keep the score level.
Portland took advantage 10 minutes later when Diego Chara’s effort from 30 yards out was blocked by Fire defender Yamith Cuesta. The ball pinged back off of Chara, finding Jorge Perlaza at the top of the Fire penalty area. The Colombian attacker took a touch while Fire defender Gonzalo Segares stepped in and referee Elias Bazakos saw enough contact on the play to whistle for a penalty. Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury stepped up to the penalty spot and placed a low effort to the left of Johnson to put the Timbers up 1-0 in the 25th minute.
The Fire came back to test Perkins a minute later as midfielder Daniel Paladini played a ball to Cristian Nazarit at the top of the box. The Colombian fed Paladini who blasted a low drive that Timbers keeper Troy Perkins was equal to.
Fire midfielder Marco Pappa took matters into his own hands in the 37th minute with a great individual run through three Timbers defenders before floating a curling shot towards the top right corner that Perkins had to lay out for in full extension.
The Fire came closest to the equalizer in the 44th minute when a swing corner kick from Paladini on the left found the head of defender Cory Gibbs at the near post. The veteran defender nodded a glancing effort toward the opposite post where it beat Perkins but not the woodwork and the Fire went into the break trailing 1-0.
The Fire inserted striker Orr Barouch for Paladini to start the second interval but the early story of the half was Yamith Cuesta’s sending off. The Fire defender came in late in a challenge on Portland midfielder James Marcelin in the 57th minute. He was sent off in the 63rd minute when a combination between Jewsbury and Perlaza saw the young Colombian stand in the way of the Timbers captain’s run.
Spurred by the ejection, the Fire nearly found the equalizer in the 68th minute when Pappa’s free kick was nodded down in the box by Cristian Nazarit. The effort found Barouch charging towards the goal and the Israeli striker beat Perkins but blasted his attempt off the crossbar.
Perkins played the spoiler very late as the Toyota Park crowd saw the Timbers ‘keeper make two fantastic saves on Pappa to keep the Fire off the board.
The first came in the 90th minute when Ghanaian striker Dominic Oduro sped up the left and squared a great ball to the Guatemalan international. With time and space, Pappa blasted an effort to the top left post which Perkins again dove in full extension to make the save.
Into stoppage time, the ensuing corner kick was cleared out of the box by Jewsbury before rolling to Pappa with acres of space. The midfielder unleashed a vicious low blast which went untouched and saw Perkins make a reactionary kick save to preserve a 1-0 victory.
The Men in Red step away from league play next week as they welcome 19-time English Champions Manchester United to Soldier Field as part of the World Football Challenge on Saturday, July 23 at 4:00 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), or by heading to the club’s official website at Chicago-Fire.com.
- Logan Pause played his 213th regular season match for the Men in Red. With his next league appearance, the Fire captain will tie Chris Armas for third on the club’s all-time regular season appearance list.
- Defender Josip Mikulic and striker Diego Chaves were both suspended for the match after offenses committed in last Saturday’s game at the LA Galaxy. Both are eligible for selection when the Fire return to league play vs. the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, August 3.
- Yamith Cuesta will serve a one-match suspension during the match against Philadelphia after his red card in Saturday night’s contest.
Chicago Fire 0 – 1 Portland Timbers
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares; Marco Pappa, Logan Pause © (Bratislav Ristic 88’), Daniel Paladini (Orr Barouch 46’), Patrick Nyarko; Dominic Oduro, Cristian Nazarit
Substitutes not used: Jon Conway, Dasan Robinson, Corben Bone, Baggio Husidic, Michael Videira
Portland Timbers: Troy Perkins; Jeremy Hall, Kevin Goldthwaite (David Horst 10’), Mamadou Danso, Rodney Wallace; Khalif Alhassan, Jack Jewsbury ©, James Marcelin, Diego Chara; Jorge Perlaza (Kenny Cooper 64’), Darlington Nagbe (Sal Zizzo 72’)
Substitutes Not Used: Adin Brown, Steve Purdy, Adam Moffat, Eddie Johnson
POR – Jack Jewsbury (penalty kick) 25’
CHI – Cory Gibbs (Caution; Dissent) 30’
POR – Jeremy Hall (Caution; Tactical Foul) 45’
CHI – Yamith Cuesta (Caution; Reckless Foul) 57’
CHI – Yamith Cuesta (Caution; Reckless Foul) 63’
CHI – Yamith Cuesta (Ejection; Second Yellow Card) 63’
POR – James Marcelin (Caution; Tactical Foul) 70’
POR – Diego Chara (Caution; Tactical Foul) 78’
CHI – Cristian Nazarit (Caution; Tactical Foul) 85’
Referee: Elias Bazakos
Referee’s Assistants: George Ganser, Anthony Vasoli
4th Referee: Terry Vaughn