PORTLAND, Ore. (Aug. 14, 2019) – Remaining within three points of a playoff position, a ten-man Chicago Fire (7-11-9, 30 points) dropped a hard fought contest, 3-2, on the road versus the Portland Timbers (11-9-4, 37 points) on Wednesday night at Providence Park. The loss ended a three game unbeaten streak in league play.
With the Fire playing its third match in 12 days, Head Coach Veljko Paunović made six changes to the starting lineup from the team’s match against the Montreal Impact on Aug. 10. As part of the changes, midfielder Michael Azira, who was acquired by the Fire on Aug. 7, made his debut for the Club, starting and playing 90 minutes.
Attacking Portland early in the game, the Fire created a dangerous chance on the counter attack in the third minute. Midfielder Aleksandar Katai played a perfectly weighted ball down the left wing to forward Nemanja Nikolić. The striker found a streaking Przemysław Frankowski, whose shot wide of the target was the first scoring opportunity of the game (WATCH).
After an even start to the match, the Fire fell behind in the 11th minute when a deep diagonal ball created space in behind for the home side. Reacting to the long ball, goalkeeper David Ousted came charging off his line to prevent a breakaway opportunity for Timbers midfielder Marvin Loria. With Ousted’s challenge knocking the ball away from Loria just outside the 18-yard box, defender Jorge Moreira was able to pounce on the rebound and lob the ball into the back of the net.
Ten minutes later, the Timbers doubled their lead when a bouncing cross into the 18-yard box found forward Brian Fernandez who scuffed the ball into the far corner.
In the 30th minute, the Fire were reduced to 10 men when Katai was shown a straight red card for violent conduct (WATCH).
Ousted made a number of key saves in the match to keep his team within striking distance. In the 53rd minute, the two-time MLS All-Star made a diving save, clearing away a powerful right-footed shot from distance by Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco (WATCH). In the 72nd minute, Ousted was able to react quickly to a right-footed shot from close range by former MLS MVP Diego Valeri (WATCH).
In the 74th minute, the Fire pulled a goal back off of a set piece taken by midfielder Brandt Bronico. The North Carolina native played a well hit ball into the 18-yard box that forced Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark to parry the ball away. The rebound found Nikolić who was standing 15 yards from goal. He elevated and put a strong header on target that deflected off midfielder Cristhian Paredes before finding the back of the net (WATCH). The tally marked Nikolić’s ninth of the season and his third consecutive game with a goal.
In the 88th minute, the Timbers again increased their lead to two goals when forward Brian Fernandez scored his second of the game off a Timbers counterattack.
Refusing to quit, the Men in Red scored their second of the game in the 92nd minute. Amando Moreno, having recently come into the match, made a run down the right side of the field. As he cut in, he left the ball for a trailing Frankowski who sent a beautiful cross towards forward CJ Sapong. The Fire’s leading goal scorer (10) beat his defender to the spot and coolly directed a diving header off the far post and into the net (WATCH).
Looking ahead, the Fire will return to SeatGeek Stadium to take on the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, Aug. 17. Beginning at 7:00 p.m. CT, the match will be broadcast live on ESPN+ and transmitted locally in Spanish on TUDN Radio Chicago 1200 AM.
Portland Timbers 3:2 Chicago Fire
POR – Moreira (2) 11’
POR – Fernández (9) (Paredes 2, Moreira 4) 21’
CHI – Nikolić (9) 74’
POR – Fernández (10) (Conechny 2, Valeri 15) 88’
CHI – Sapong (10) (Frankowski 6) 90’+2’
POR – Loria (Caution) 27’
CHI – Katai (Ejection) 30’ CHI – Calvo (Caution) 79’
POR – Ebobisse (Caution) 81’
Chicago Fire: GK Ousted, D Marcelo, D Kappelhof (Moreno 89’), D Lillard, D Bornstein (Calvo HT), M Azira, M Bronico, M Katai, M Mihailović (Sapong 61’), M Frankowski, F Nikolić
Subs not used: Sánchez, D Reynolds II, D Campos, M Gutjahr
Shots: 5 Shots on goal: 2 Fouls: 5 Offsides: 2 Corners: 3
Portland Timbers: GK Clark, D Moreira, D Cascante, D Mabiala (Tuiloma 35’), D Valentin, M Paredes, M Chara, M Loria (Ebobisse 75’), M Valeri, M Blanco (Conechny 61’), F Fernández
Subs not used: GK McIntosh, D Villafaña, M Zambrano, M Polo
Shots: 15 Shots on goal: 7 Fouls: 14 Offsides: 1 Corners: 6
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Michael Barwegen
Fourth Official: Farhad Dadkho
VAR: Jon Freemon