PORTLAND, Ore. – The Chicago Fire rallied for a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers Wednesday night at Providence Park in the club’s second match of the 2015 Simple Invitational.
The Fire fell behind early after a deflected free kick from Michael Nanchoff found the net, but equalized in the 44th minute with an own goal off the head of Portland’s Norberto Paparatto. The Men in Red closed the match with a flurry of chances, but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal.
• WATCH: Fire vs. Timbers Full Match Video
Eric Gehrig Postmatch Reaction
"I thought the performance was very good in a lot of departments," said head coach Frank Yallop. "What I liked was that obviously our subs coming on made a difference but the guys that started the game did a real good job containing a good side, and created some good chances. I thought it was a good indicator of our fitness, our sharpness was back, we played with the desire and the fight that I always want out of my teams, and we had some quality."
Chris Ritter saw the game’s first golden chance early on. After Quincy Amarikwa won a free kick near the corner of the 18-yard box, Michael Stephens hit a perfect cross on the ensuing free kick. The ball dropped right onto the head of Ritter near the penalty spot, but his shot rose high of the target and out for a goal kick.
Nanchoff put the Timbers on top in the 22nd minute thanks in part to a fortunate deflection off a set piece. The winger took a left-footed free kick from a few yards outside the box, drilling it off the shoulder of a Fire player on the wall. The ball redirected itself into the far corner of the net, snapping Chicago’s streak of 291 minutes without conceding a goal during the preseason.
Chicago tied the game moments before halftime on a set piece. Michael Stephens sent a corner kick into the mixer, narrowly missing Eric Gehrig’s head on a near-post run. However, Timbers defender Paparatto was trailing the play and mistakenly headed the ball into the far corner of the net to knot the game at 1-1.
Designated Player Shaun Maloney had about the best look of the second half in the 83rd minute. The Scottish midfielder, who was dangerous offensively throughout his 30 minutes on the pitch, blasted a shot from well outside the area, shaving the crossbar with a near-miss.
Shahdon Winchester, a trialist from Trinidad and Tobago, had another go moments later. The winger took a pass and created a shot with a nifty turn and first touch to create space from 20 yards out. However, his left-footed attempt went wide of the frame.
Chicago had a great opportunity to go ahead during stoppage time thanks to a well-placed cross from offseason signing Joevin Jones. The Trinidadian found trialist Albert Edward open in front of the goal, but he just missed full connection on a leaping-volley, sending the shot wide.
Each team recorded four shots on goal on the evening, with the Timbers recording 12 total shots to the Fire's 11. Chicago's Sean Johnson made three saves while playing the full 90 minutes in net.
The Men in Red will continue the 2015 Simple Invitational action on Saturday, Feb. 28 against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. CT with livestreams available at www.chicago-fire.com and www.csnchicago.com.
Post-Match Notes: Head coach Frank Yallop reported after the match that David Accam has returned to Chicago to receive treatment on a groin injury sustained in Sunday's scrimmage with Stabaek IF. Yallop indicated that Accam would continue to be evaluated in the coming days and that a determination regarding his availability for the March 6 opener at LA Galaxy would be made at a later date ... Defender Adailton started tonight's match but exited in the first half after experiencing head-to-head contact in the air ... The match marked Chicago's first outing of the preseason against an MLS side and the fifth for Caleb Porter's Timbers club.
2015 Simple Invitational
Portland Timbers 1:1 Chicago Fire
February 25, 2015 – Providence Park
POR – Michael Nanchoff (unassisted) 22
CHI – Own Goal (Norberto Paparatto) 44
CHI – Quincy Amarikwa (caution) 4
POR – George Fochive (caution) 30
POR – Jeanderson (caution) 55
CHI – Chris Ritter (caution) 87
POR – George Fochive (ejection) 88
Portland Timbers: Andrew Weber, Taylor Peay (Danny O’Rourke 78), Norberto Paparatto, Anthony Manning, Jeanderson (Andy Thoma 61), Dairon Asprilla (Rundell Winchester 77), George Fochive, Nick Besler (Blair Gavin 61), Michael Nanchoff (Schillo Tshuma 28), Gaston Fernandez (Darlington Nagbe 45), Maximiliano Urruti (Fanendo Adi 45).
Shots: 12; Shots On Goal: 4; Saves: 4; Fouls: 23; Corner Kicks: 5; Offsides: 4.
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson, Kingsley Bryce, Eric Gehrig, Adailton (Jeff Larentowicz 31), Patrick Doody (Joevin Jones 62), Alex (Shahdon Winchester 63), Chris Ritter, Michael Stephens (Harry Shipp 75), Greg Cochrane (Razvan Cocis 63), Quincy Amarikwa (Shaun Maloney 62), Kennedy Igboananike (Albert Edward 76).
Shots: 11; Shots On Goal: 4; Saves: 3; Fouls: 17; Corner Kicks: 5; Offsides: 0.