Portland finally puts everything together and shows their most complete game of the season. Chicago tried to rise from the ashes but couldn't quite get there. In end they got drenched by the rain of goals. Portland finally gets their first win, 4-2.
Portland came out like of the gate chomping at the bit while the Chicago Fire looked to absorb the pressure. Portland almost came away with an early goal with a Benny Hill-esque run into the box in the 10th minute but was only able to come up with a corner. Steve Purdy hit a beautiful shot off a quick corner that forced a save from Sean Johnson. On the ensuing corner Kenny Cooper headed in a beautiful goal only to be called back because the ball was deemed to have gone out and then curled back in.
The game then settled down to a back and forth match. Chicago finally came out of their shell and started to put pressure on Portland's defense with one of their more dangerous chances coming off a corner in the 15th minute. In the 16th minute Cooper received a hard tackle from Gonzalo Segares which Cooper took exception to. They exchange pleasantries and addresses so they could send each other "Christmas cards."
Continue after the jumpChicago really started to get into the attack with a chance in the 25th minute but only to have it snuffed out by Timbers defender Eric Brunner. Portland then were kept in their own half until Kalif Alhassan played a great ball through to Jorge Perlaza. Perlaza used his speed to gain a step on his defender and then used his skills to cut the ball back past the keeper and slot the ball home into the far post. What a great goal and exactly what the Portland Timbers needed to get their confidence going.
From that goal on Portland tightened the screws on the Fire. Chance after chance was created by Portland's constant pressure from the 29th minute on. Portland came up roses again with a goal off of a clearance of a Portland free kick in the 38th minute. The Fire were able to clear the initial ball but it bounced right to Rodney Wallace who got his first time shot on goal which deflected into the net. Sean Johnson just watched it go past him into the goal and put up his hands as if to say "thanks for the help guys."
The first half wound down with a great grab of a cross by Jake Gleeson and a 43th minute yellow card to Kalif Alhassan and Gavin Wilkinson being kindly asked by the Referee to leave the pitch. I love that even though Gavin is the GM he is still riding the Referees.
Portland started where they left off with as much pressure as they could put on the Chicago Fire. Again the pressure paid off with a great goal off of a set piece, granted with the help of a keeper mistake. Jack Jewsbury placed a nice ball to Rodney Wallace who played the ball on the ground into the box. Sean Johnson then spilled the ball right to the feet of Jorge Perlaza who said "Gracias" and put the ball into the back of the net for his second of the night.
From that goal on Portland seemed to slowly fall into complacency. It was almost as if as the time kept creeping up to 90 and Portland said to themselves "We got this now, we can take it easy." Chicago seemed to gain confidence from the 50th minute on and proceeded to forced Jake Gleeson into a great save on a break away in the 60th minute. Even with Gleeson coming up big the Fire finally broke through in the 66th minute with what was called an own goal by Eric Brunner.
Chicago continued trying to climb back into the game and kept applying the pressure. Sal Zizzo came on the 68th minute for Jeremy Hall to try and give our midfield a lift. The sub was not enough as Chicago continued to come close to their second goal of the game. Their second finally came in the 80th minute with a huge defensive lapse that left Marco Pappa wide open in the box and time to turn and hit a shot into the far post.
Chicago's goal seemed to finally wake Portland up and they applied their own pressure again. The pressure once again created a goal in the 84th minute. Once again a Portland set piece led to a goal. Jewsbury hit a good ball to the back post which was headed back across the goal by Eddie Johnson. Cooper then challenged the keeper who once again spilled the ball. A rugby scrum then broke out with the ball pushed over the end line by 6 players on the ground.
The final goal finally took the wind out of Chicago's sails. The game ended 4-2 and the Portland Timbers fans had a lot to cheer about.
- I must say the National Anthem was epic. The tifo was amazing in person and on TV and I really believe just served notice for all the other supporters in America.
- Eric Brunner was vintage Brunner and snuffed out everything that came near him.
- Zizzo looked a little out of sync with his teammates but still looked very dangerous when he came in.
- Alhassan was our play maker, whenever he received the ball on the wing he seemed to be able to cut into the middle of the pitch and find the open man in a dangerous position.
- Wallace plays much better with Alhassan then with Jeremy Hall. Their pairing has been money lately.
- Jeremy Hall plays much better with Steve Purdy.
- Timber Joey was trending on Twitter.
- Gleeson owned the his box and attacked the Fire crosses, only one ball into the ball really looked dangerous.
- Two more honorees where entered into the ring of honor: John Bain and Jimmy Conway.
It is late and I will add the post game interviews tomorrow as well as the video and pictures I shot at the game. I even got in on an interview with Don Garber the MLS commissioner