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Selling Wolf Tickets: Portland Timbers vs Chicago Fire, MLS Week 24 Preview

The Fire must win in Portland to keep their season alive

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

I have the sneaking suspicion that we’re being set up for disappointment.

This all feels a little too good to be true. After a humiliating and disappointing June, and a July to forget, the Chicago Fire have somehow, some way, pulled themselves into some form of postseason contention. Their place in the table has not changed, they’re still 10th in the east, however with their win last week, they find themselves three points back of a playoff spot, and four points back of 6th. They’re threatening getting hot at the right time and making a playoff run- a tale as old as American sports.

I still don’t think they have it in them though. History with Andrew Hauptman’s Chicago Fire has taught me to be weary and guarded with my excitement. There’s always a shoe that drops with this club. There’s always a red card or a goalkeeping error or a miss from point blank range that will ring in the disappointment and ruin everything.

As far as we know, the Fire are just selling wolf tickets. It’s up to them to prove us wrong, and it starts with doing something they’ve never done before— winning in Portland.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS/ record vs Portland Timbers: 0W-5D-4L, 11 GF / 16 GA, 5 pts out of 27

Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Portland Timbers: 0W-2D-3L, 6 GF / 10 GA, 2 pts out of 15

Previously on…

Portland has won three of their last four games in the league. There one blip being a loss Minnesota United on August 4th, who then ran it back to knock the Timbers out of the Open Cup three days later. Their record almost matches the Fire over the last six games— the one difference being they have an extra win, where the Fire have a loss. Both teams are relatively equal on form, so this should be a fun one.

Suggested Lineup

STOP PLAYING KRONHOLM! But other than that, I don’t see any reason to change the lineup. The only thing I could foresee is Frankowski getting the start over Katai to try to save his legs for Saturday against Philly, but other than that, this is successful, so why change it?

Keys To The Match

Keep Defending: The biggest reason for the the club’s change in fortune is the defense. Since Jonathan Bornstein started playing, the Fire have not given up a goal from open play; The two goals given up were from a penalty and a set piece. It’s night and day when comparing it to earlier in the season.

That’s why they must keep up this run of form for the rest of the season. They need to choke the life out of a Portland attack that’s scored nine goals in their last four games. It’s imperative that the club wins this game, which means the D has to be near perfect.

Be Mentally Tough: This game is going to be a big challenge for the Men in Red. Not only does the season boil down just to this game, but it also came down to last week against Montreal, and it could come down to next week against Philadelphia. Every game is an elimination game from now until the end of the season. That has to wear on you as a player, but the Fire need to keep going. They need to play through it and win out.

Stop Playing Kenneth Kronholm: This, more than anything, is how the club is going to make a late charge. Kronholm is going to cost the Fire games. He almost did so against Montreal last Saturday, and is sure to do so again at some point in the future. He can’t be your goalkeeper moving forward.

How To Watch

Television: NA

Streaming: ESPN+

Final Thoughts

This game is going to be tough for a lot of reasons. but it is absolutely winnable. And I think the Fire do just that. They’re going to stave off elimination and humiliation for at least three more days.

My Prediction: 2-1 Fire.

What do you think? Can the Fire make it three wins in a row? Let us know in the comments below.