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Portland Timbers 2, Fire 2: First Thoughts

No Dax + No Basti + Losing Polster Early makes for a tough evening but the Fire hang on for a point

MLS: Chicago Fire at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Pre-Match Thought: Accam back in, Basti not in the 18, and Alvarez in... central midfield? Fascinating.

Pre-Match Thought 2: 9:30 kickoffs are literally the devil.

Pre-Match Thought 3: Toronto beat Orlando, which means (for now) the Fire are back down to second place in the Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield race. A draw will get them level on points. (I forget off-hand how tiebreakers work in MLS.)

Pre-Match Thought 4: Still low-key worried about the midfield but we should be fine.

KICKOFF: Let’s goooooooooooooooooo!!

1- Timbers with a corner kick already. Almost goes in! Just barely skips over the bar.

3- Midfield already struggling. Can’t keep the ball, forced to react to things out of possession. We’ll probably still be okay but we’re already feeling the loss of Basti.

4- Adi jostles with Alvarez in the box, throws him to the ground, ref whistles for a foul and the Fire get the ball back.

5- Accam gets some time on the ball in the box. Doesn’t do anything with it.

7- Fire got a throw-in but the ref is being persnickety about the spot.

8- Oh wait, that’s because it’s a free kick and not a throw. lol. Set piece lands in front of Niko in the box, tees him up nicely, aaaaand he whiffs it.

9- Backline doing an okay job so far. Adi + Valeri launched a counterattack and the Fire defense was all “lol nah.”

10- Valeri and Kap roughhousing on the touchline just outside Lampson’s box. Ref consults the linesman (I think?) before making a call. Gives it to the Fire. Goalkick.

12- Fire are starting to settle down a bit and are feeling their way into the game. More calm on the ball, at any rate.

13- Portland hoofs a ball into the box, Adi tries to get a head on it but it’s cleared out.

14- I just peeked at Twitter and saw everyone arguing about turf. <close tab>

16- Another Portland ball in, sliiiiight miscommunication between Alvarez (who’s dropped back a bit) and Lamp. They sort it out, but Adi was in hot pursuit and I had Concerns.

17- Zemanski takes a shot at goal, Lampson cradles it. Accam now with a counter, almost gets in but is cut off by a PDX defender and ultimately loses the ball.

18- Adi heads in at goal from a tight angle and the ball flashes across the face of goal. Yeeeesh.

20- Meira commits a foul, the ref has a Difficult Conversation with him.

22- Alvarez hit a backpass to Lampson but it was slow and right in Adi’s flightpath. Almost a goal. Yikes.

23- lol Juninho with a handball in the box. Penalty to the Timbers.

24- Lampson dives in the wrong direction and Adi buries it. 1-0 Timbers.

25- I mean, on the one hand I can’t actually remember the last time the Fire have been in a losing position. It’s good that this feels weird. ON THE OTHER HAND....

25 (cont)- Meanwhile Accam is tripped in the box while racing in on goal and the ref swallows his whistle. Awesome. This is going to be a great night.

26- And Polster’s hobbling after a bad tackle! Faaaaaaaaaaantastic!

27- Some more bullshit happened and Timbers had a chance to make it 2-0.

29- Polster tried to carry on for a few minutes but is now on the ground receiving treatment. Awesome. He looks despondent too.

30- Whilst playing a man down, Accam + MdL + Vincent keep trying to do fancy footwork on the edge of the box. It’s... not very effective, tbh.

31- Per the CSN-Chicago broadcast, this is the first time the Fire have been in a losing position since April 29th against the Red Bulls. So, there’s that.

32- Valeri tries to get a shot off in the box but gets blocked. Ball drifts back to the Portland defensive bank and recycled.

34- GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL FIRE!!!! Alvarez sends in a diagonal cross, Niko flicks his heel and directs it inside the far post! We’re level!!

35- 17 goals!! Wowowowowowowowowowowowowow!!!

36- Somewhere in the chaos, Matt Polster checked out of the game. Drew Conner replaces him. My large adult son has like 2 or 3 weeks to heal from whatever this is.

37- Holy shit Valeri hits a bicycle kick and almost makes it 2-1. Hooooly shit.

40- Some ping pong in front of Lamp’s goal, Adi gets a head on it and then falls to the ground in a crumple. Ref blows the whistle, thankfully it’s for offsides.

41- NIKOLIC IS DOWN. REPEAT. NIKOLIC IS DOWN. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

42- Ok he’s up now. Limping, but on his feet. Just gotta get out of this half. Now Niko tries to run onto a ball sent over the top but he’s ruled offside.

43- So there’s some debate over whether it was Niko or Alvarez that scored the goal. MLS Matchcenter currently says Niko. It could change though.

44- Fire backline has been doing an ok job so far. Bit wobbly at first but they’ve sorted their shit out.

45- MdL just took down Valeri outside the box. Good lad. #TheChicagoWay

45 + 1- One minute of added time.

45 + 1 (cont)- Both teams look like they’re ready for HT.

Halftime! A stupid penalty puts the Fire behind in the score for the first time in months, but Alvarez and/or Niko showed some pure guts to get the equlizer. POR 1-1 CHI.

Halftime Thoughts: Our central midfield is doing the best they can but the absence of Dax and Basti is clearly taking a toll. Losing Polster on top of that could well tip the scales toward Portland. But right now we’re tied, so we’ve got something to build on. This is going to be a tough second half coming up.

Kickoff! We’ve got 45 minutes to find a winning goal. Let’s do this.

46- The Fire lost the possession game

47- Lamp comes out for deal with a cross but he can’t hold on to the ball. Inadvertently tees up Blanco but Juninho clears it out in time.

48- And apparently Kap was hurt in the melee. Great.

49- Adi tries to muscle past his markers in the box, forgets that he’s offside, isn’t happy with the whistle.

50- Timbers with a bad backpass of their own, nearly setting up David Accam to put the Fire ahead. Gleeson manages to snuff it out.

51- Accam gets into a good position on the flank and sends in a low cross to the far post. Niko just barely misses it and the attack unspools.

52- MdL wins a FK from distance, Alvarez takes it. Nothing comes of it and Portland hits quickly on the counter. Fire snuff it out but it was Nervous Making.

54- Alvarez crosses in to Niko who heads from 16 yards out. Nearly gets it under the bar! But nope, goalkick.

54 (cont)- And then the Timbers send in a long ball at the other end and Lamp barely beats out Valeri in a footrace to get to it first.

56- Blanco hits a shot from outside the box, Lampson juuuuust about covers it.

57- Adi and Meira in a running jostle in the box, Lamp rushes in to help but slips, Meira just barely blocks a shot to concede a corner. Woof.

58- Accam commits a handball about 25-30 yards out. Portland with a FK. Someone sends it in but the Fire clear it.

60- Lots of bullshit happened but pretty much Soli was brought down by Blanco and didn’t get the call, Blanco played Valeri through on goal and got a shot off, almost went in, but it wouldn’t have mattered because Valeri was offside. Things are looking shaky at the moment.

61- HOLY SHIT BRANDON VINCENT JUST SCORED FROM 12 YARDS IT HIT THE UNDERSIDE OF THE BAR AND BOUNCED IN 2-1 FIRE VINCENT’S FIRST GOAL CAN I LIVE

62- Ok. Deep breaths, everyone.

63- That was such a great play tho!!

64- Alvarez is getting a bit tired. Tried to run onto a throughball but ran out of gas.

65- J-Camp coming on for Soli. The Great Bus-Parking begins.

65 (cont)- Lamp just got a yellow card? For something?? I guess it was time wasting but who the eff knows.

66- Portland get a long FK. Valeri takes it and Lamp has to dig deep to keep it out of his net.

67- The resulting corner for Portland, thankfully, bears no fruit. We have another half hour of this.

68- Olum hits a screamer from distance. Lamp catches it, thank god. Timbers aren’t going down quietly.

69- Incidentally, Alvarez is now being credited with the first goal. That sounds about right. Niko still has some time to get one.

70- Portland ties it up. Blanco played through and hits a shot past Lampson and inside the far post. 2-2.

72- Fire trying to slow things down a bit. I bet they play for the draw. Not the worst idea but I have unresolved trauma from Yallop making them do this. We’ve got 20 minutes to make this work (or find a third goal).

73- Blanco totally stole Drew Conner’s lunch money. This is going great.

74- Dude comes back for seconds and does Conner dirty. Gets a yellow for his trouble. My man’s getting Mad Online about it. lol

75- Lamp denies Valeri again. Let’s hope he can keep this up.

76- Alvarez drifting wide now to help Conner out. Poor kid. He’ll get there. Portland with a corner.

76 (cont)- Corner whistled dead after a foul on Accam in the box.

77- Someone tries again from distance but it’s wide. Credit to the Fire— they’re not panicking.

79- Niko tries to pick up a ball sent over the top but Gleeson beats him to it.

80- Niko and Accam really want to make another goal happen but their timing is just a bit off.

81- DJ coming on for Accam. Definitely playing for the draw now.

82- Adi has been a goddamn brawler tonight. I respect the hustle but my dude better leave these boys alone.

83- Niko shoots from distance and Gleeson has to tip it over the bar! Holy moly that would’ve been sweet.

84- Short corner then a ball in to the far post. MdL tries to get a head on it but can’t.

85- Portland resorting to booting balls against Fire players to win corners. (This one is easily cleared out but the Timbers are still on the ball.)

86- So THAT was almost another Fire handball in the box!! Don’t do this to me boys, I have a condition.

87- Maybe both teams will decide that a draw is totally fine. It could happen. Right?

88- Fire totally let Portland run rampant in the box. They can’t make good on it but Y I K E S

89- Yeah, Fire aren’t trying to score anymore.

89 (cont)- Arboleda alone on goal, puts his shot past Lampson but it’s wide of the near post. Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez.

90- 3 minutes of added time.

90 + 1- Adi heads the ball into the net but the ref whistles for a foul and it doesn’t count. He pushed Meira down to get to the ball. Right call, but it so often doesn’t get made in this godforsaken league.

90 + 2- This is some real Siege Of Gondor shit right now. Portland with a corner but it’s cleared.

90 + 3- Arboleda leading the charge. Mostly bad luck he hasn’t scored.

90 + 4- Adi and then Arboleda nearly make it happen but it’s JUST BARELY cleared.

Full time! Fire hang on for the draw!

Final Thought: There was a time when a draw against Portland would’ve been just fine with me. The fact that we’re all disappointed now speaks to how far this team has come. The Fire are now level on points with Toronto and ahead on goal difference, which means we’re heading into the Gold Cup break in 1st place in the East and the SS race. See you in a couple weeks!