MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
03/14/2014 6:00 PM
03/14/2014 6:07 PM
Chicago (0-1-0) at Portland (0-0-1), 3 p.m.
Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Timbers will aim for their first win of the 2014 campaign when the club hosts the Chicago Fire on Sunday at Providence Park.
The Timbers entered the season as prohibitive favorites to win the Western Conference, but were given all they could handle by a resurgent Philadelphia Union side last week.
The Timbers were pushed to keep possession by the Union and eventually conceded the first goal of the match in the 64th minute when a corner kick from Cristian Maidana was nodded on by Maurice Edu and flicked past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts by Jack McInerney.
It appeared that Portland would suffered a first-ever defeat to Philadelphia as the clock ticked toward stoppage time, but in the third minute, Will Johnson took a quick corner kick that was mis-hit by Union midfielder Brian Carroll and settled perfectly on the head of Gaston Fernandez, who nodded it past Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath for the equalizing goal.
"We scored one last year against LA Galaxy to win the game at the final whistle. It's the last kick of the game. I give our guys a lot of credit for pulling out a point," Portland head coach Caleb Porter said.
"You can look at it one of two ways: we lost two points or we pulled out a point. We're going to build on the positive, to pull out a point because, under the circumstances, I think almost everybody thought that the game was over. That's what this team is capable of.
"They did that last year. They showed that mettle and that grit and that fight, that refuse to lose attitude. I'd like to see it a bit more in key moments in the boxes. We've got to have more hunger, at times. I thought there were plenty of goals in there if we were a little bit hungrier in and around goal and making the run, being a bit brave to get on the end of a cross or looking for that half chance. I think the floodgates are opening soon. I'm hoping that goal we pulled out at the end opens things up."
Chicago, meanwhile, is coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss to Chivas USA at the StubHub Center last weekend.
The scoring started in the second half when Erick Torres was pulled down in the box by Gonzalo Segares in the 54th minute. He then stepped up to convert the penalty, giving Chivas the lead in the 56th minute.
Rookie Thomas McNamara then doubled Chivas' lead in the 59th minute before Benji Joya pulled Chicago within one in the 64th minute and Quincy Amarikwa equalized 20 minutes from time.
But the Fire were done in two minutes from time when a goal from Bobby Burling handed Chivas USA all three points.
"If you look at the game as a whole, we were poor," Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. "I think our whole demeanor wasn't what we've seen and worked on [in] preseason. So just very disappointing.
"Having said that, we get back in the game, 2-2, we fought back and kept going, we tie the game, and then to give up a set play like that is poor on our behalf. We got to learn from it, we got to move on, but I'm very, very disappointed."
Star striker Mike Magee's status for Sunday's match is still in question as he did not play last week due to a hamstring injury.
"For him to start I think will be tough but again we've got to see how some of the other guys are looking," Yallop said.
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