The Fire now have the dubious distinction of being the victim of the Portland Timbers' first MLS home win and their first MLS road win. Facing an almost certain "must-win" situation against a struggling expansion side at home, the Fire failed miserably and continue to drop behind the pack in the race for a playoff spot. As a result of tonight's action the Timbers have now leap-frogged Chicago in the overall table with 21 points.
Once again there was little positive action from the center of the pitch until the second half when Marco Pappa was moved behind two strikers out of necessity. As currently constituted the Fire are much too easy to defend as long balls to Dominic Oduro can only work so often. If the Fire are to have a chance of recovering anything from this season the new acquisition, Sebastian Grazzini will need to be better than just good. He's going to have to be the type of player that can carry a team on his shoulders. It's certainly an unfair expectation and one that may not even be realistic but it's painfully apparent that the cornerstone player capable of winning a result, even against the most lowly of opponents isn't on this roster yet.
It's probably easy enough to look for blame in the less than stellar officiating job done by referee Elias Bazakos. In fact, Bazakos was awful but good teams overcome that at home against lesser opponents. In this case the Fire are looking up at an expansion team that's beaten them twice.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - A good enough performance by Johnson with six saves and he even guessed right on Jewsbury's spot kick but couldn't stop it. Came up with a big save on Chara in the 16th minute after the midfielder maneuvered around defenders for a chance.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Decent effort by the Fire outside defenders against Portland's five man midfield attack.
D Cory Gibbs (6) - Clanked a header of the post and just missed scoring the Fire's first goal from a corner kick opportunity this season in the 44th minute. Chara and Perlaza in reality were not that dangerous throughout the match. "We knew it was a must win game for us. I'm not saying our season's over but mentally it's a game that we wanted to win and had to win for our fans. It didn't go our way but we have to look at ourselves collectively and push forward from here," said Gibbs after the match.
D Yamith Cuesta (5) - The victim of a highly questionable second yellow card in the 63rd minute. Typically two yellow cards in six minutes would earn a lower rating than a 5 but given that the first yellow card was borderline and the second one was ludicrous the rating stays at a five. Cuesta wasn't happy after the match but stopped short of firing on Bazakos. "I didn't think the second one was a yellow but there's nothing you can do about it," said Cuesta.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Got a little more involved in the play going forward than he has been in the last few matches and drew a foul in a dangerous spot in the 39th minute. A victim of another dubious call in the 24th minute when Bazakos whistled him for an infraction in the penalty area against Perlaza.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Active with several good crosses and a few dangerous runs in the attacking third but nothing of any real consequence. If only they had a passer with vision in the middle of the pitch that could take advantage of his skills.........
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Came up with a one-time shot that was easily saved in the 26th minute and provided the corner kick which led to Gibb's shot off the post. Other than that it was tough going. Subbed out at half time.
M Logan Pause (5) - Good effort from Pause but the Fire's complete lack of presence from the center of the pitch in the attacking third has been the death of them in the first half.
M Marco Pappa (6) - After a pretty quiet first 30 minutes Pappa became more involved as the Fire seemed to sense the urgency of the situation. He moved into a central role out of necessity in the second half as the Fire pressed for a game tying goal. Pappa was much better in the second 45 but his highlights came from long distance attempts at goal. He did test Perkins in the 37th minute forcing him into a big save and he did so several more times late. Two long distance shots in the dying moments almost found their way past the Portland keeper but Perkins came up big again. Corner kicks were not good again though.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Teams are going to foul Oduro on his run-outs if they can catch him in order to neutralize his pace. That's just the reality of the situation. If you can take away his speed game, Oduro's passing isn't something team's will have to fear. Moved to right midfield when Barouch entered after half time.
F Cristian Nazirit (5) - Tried to get on the end of a few errant crosses with no success. Strikers need service and this team's front runners haven't had it all season.
F Orr Barouch (5) - His one highlight was a shot off the crossbar from a scramble in front of the net in 68th minute after a free kick.
Bratislav Ristic (NR) - Came in for Pause in the 88th minute, too late to make an impact.
Frank Klopas (5) - This team continues to make things more difficult for themselves than they need to be. The organization and discipline has been better since Klopas took over for De Los Cobos but the bottom line is the results have not been much different. Klopas discussed the officiating and his decision to start essentially the same line up three times in one week in his post game press conference, which you can listen to in it's entirety right here.
A reserve match in Kansas City on Tuesday morning before facing Manchester United next Saturday night. The next league match is at home against Philadelphia on August 3.