Fire 2 Timbers 2 - recap and ratings

Things looked bleak in the 58th minute after Ben Zemanski gave Portland a 2-0 lead but the Fire showed some resolve and some heart in battling back against one of the better teams in the league this season. The first 15-20 minutes of the match featured some exciting moments on both ends of the pitch. Portland hit the woodwork three times in the opening four minutes of the contest and the Fire generated some good looks of their own.

The visitors took control of the game midway through the first half however, controlling the ball for 60% of the initial forty five minutes. The home team came out more purposefully to start the second but Zemanski's wide open look in the 58th seemed to seal things for the Timbers. Frank Klopas then decided to throw the kitchen sink at the Portland defense and the strategy worked. Removing Chris Rolfe, Dilly Duka, and Jeff Larentowicz in favor of Maicon Santos, Sherjill MacDonald, and Daniel Paladini put the Timbers on their heels and Chicago reversed the control advantage against one of the better possession based teams in the league.

The Fire's offensive effort created numerous chances and seemingly had Portland clinging for a point toward the end of the match. Mike Magee continued his stellar play since being acquired from Los Angeles scoring his third goal in three games in all competitions for Chicago. The Fire have to be just as enthused about the comeback effort as they were disappointed by allowing the first two goals but this game should be something to build on.

There was enough on the pitch in the last thirty minutes of the second half to believe that they could have found another goal somewhere. Even if they didn't, the 2-2 draw isn't a bad result. Now to keep the right combinations on the field and find a way to sustain and project that second half performance over a full ninety minutes.

Check out post game reaction from Mike Magee, Daniel Paladini, and Patrick Nyarko at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.

Player Ratings 

GK  Sean Johnson (6) – Three saves but two goals allowed. The Fire might have been a bit fortunate that Portland found the post early and often but Johnson managed to get a hand on one and initially saved another.

D Gonzalo Segares (6) – Started the play that led to Magee’s goal with a quality stop and ball forward to Alex. Involved offensively early as both sides went up and down the pitch. Most of Portland’s trouble in the first half came from the other side of the field.

D Bakary Soumare (5) – The first half was probably a 4 with numerous unforced turnovers on bad passes directly to Portland players and a bit of ball watching on Valeri’s goal. Rebounded well enough in the second half with more of a presence in the middle but a weak backpass late was almost disastrous.

D Austin Berry (5) – Like everyone else he was better in the second forty-five with several clearances out of danger from the middle of the box.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) – Also shared in the suspect marking on Valeri’s goal and Harrington was running up and down the sideline in the first half almost completely unhampered to  serve cross after cross into the area. He was very involved in the offense getting forward in the second half however.

M Jeff Larentowicz (5) – Portland had the ball for most of the first half and was able to find space with the Fire playing in a single holding mid formation. The game really seemed to turn in the 70th minute when Larentowicz and Duka were taken off in favor of Paladini and MacDonald. He wasn’t terrible but he wasn’t particularly effective either.

M Patrick Nyarko (6) – Didn’t figure into the scores but continues to work and create dangerous opportunities by playing in combination, drawing fouls, and beating opponents to the end line for either shots or crosses into the front of goal.

M Alex (6) – Spearheaded much of the play going forward throughout the game. The ball that led to Magee’s goal was mishandled by Kocic but it was Alex’s lead pass that made it possible. On the negative side, Zemanski’s goal came from the vacant space that should have been covered by one of the center midfielders. Larentowicz picked up his mark. Will Klopas continue to go with Alex and one holding midfielder when Pause returns?

M Dilly Duka (5) – Drew two fouls in dangerous areas just outside the box on two occasions early in the second half. Active in the first half as well. Productive before being subbed out in the 70th.

F Chris Rolfe (5) – Had a great look at goal in the 1oth minute but Kocic got enough on the shot to tip it over the crossbar for a corner kick. Replaced by Santos in the 68th and the offense sparked from there.

F Mike Magee (7) – Scored the first goal by capitalizing on a sloppy handle by Kocic and not only set up Paladini’s goal by faking the shot but he also drew the foul that set up the opportunity in the first place. Magee has played at an incredibly high level since joining the club and displayed all the reasons why Arena was reluctant to part with him. Leadership on the pitch is also impressive. The guy learned some things playing with the big boys in LA.

F Maicon Santos (6) – Continues to spark the offense as a substitute. Entered in the 64th and the Fire scored 4 minutes later. Good in combination as the Fire put their foot on the gas.

F Daniel Paladini (7) – Came in to the match in the 70th minute for Larentowicz and scored the game tying goal on an exceptional free kick. Also very good in controlling midfield as the Timbers were reeling and clinging in an attempt to hold onto the point.

F Sherjill MacDonald (6) – Entered the match at the same time as Paladini and showed some of the effort reminiscent of last year’s play. Had a hard shot blocked in the 76th for a corner kick and delivered a very good cross to Santos in stoppage time that provided a good look at goal.

Comments

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  • I guess when you are sitting at 11 points at this stage in the season, a draw at home may constitute a not bad result.

    They were really lucky not to be down 3-0 within 10 minutes. Luck is part of the game, but still it doesn't inspire much confidence going forward.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    They've been on the receiving end of "bad luck" enough to know that things like that seem to even out. Three points would have been optimum of course but I think the way the result was earned may be a little more meaningful than the result itself in this case. They still need a player or two and need to continue improvement, but that improvement is what you look for when you're 3-7-3.

    There are still some issues but it's difficult to say that there weren't positives coming from this 2-2 draw.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Agreed, Guillermo. I left Toyota Park feeling pretty good about the team, especially after seeing the passion/drive in Magee, Paladini, Nyarko, and Alex. It really felt like they "willed" us back into a match that we otherwise would have lost.

    However, I was down on the first row near Portland's goal in the 2nd Half, and was a little shocked at some of the apathy I saw at times from both Soumare and Rolfe.

    You noted Soumare's weak passes above, and I can add that he looked incredibly tired and slow. There were a few times where he didn't even look up to see that there were defenders blocking his passing lanes. And a couple times, he really seemed to struggle to get back to defend a counterattack. I know he's freakishly tall, and more valuable for his height than his speed, but running 20 yards downfield shouldn't be so hard for a professional athlete.

    And Rolfe. What can I say? There were several times...one in particular...where he just stood there and watched the ball go right by him. A lot of the fans behind me were shouting at him to move his feet. I counted at least 3 passes he could have easily intercepted if he'd just moved his feet. I'm not used to seeing Rolfe look lazy, or Baky for that matter.

    Despite the result, and our dominance in the final 30 minutes or so, for the majority of the game we looked a little old and tired, especially after Portland's second goal. Some of our starters seem to be a bit moody...if things don't go our way for a half, they seem to give up mentally and just switch to autopilot.

    Thank God we've got players in leadership positions who keep fighting til the bitter end; otherwise, we would not have pulled out with a draw.

  • Magee is rapidly turning into one of my favorite players. A lot of passion and skill coming from him. He's one of those players that make the players around him better. Did I misinterpret or did he get his yellow card because he didn't want the ref getting shaving cream on the ball? Or was it that he wanted a quick restart and the ref was forcing the 10 yards?

    Alex had a great game. He displayed a lot more confidence and dribbled his way out of a lot of situations.

    There was so much flair on display in the final 25 minutes from the Fire. Great to see.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    Magee is one of my favorites now too and it's not just because of his ability to score it's because of his leadership qualities, his tenacity and work ethic. All of the fan favorites we have in Chicago are guys that fight against adversity and never give up, he has that. Gargan wasn't especially talented but the guy never quit and played hard, Nyarko, Pause, Berry all have that similar tenacity. We like fearless players that never quit. I like Well Thompson too because of that and if his reckless play wasn't a liability my guess is he would be more popular amongst fans as well.

  • In reply to john:

    Agree with these and want to see Thomson back out there. That lack of any physical marking on the Valeri goal was pathetic. They had 2 guys right there, and still let him get his shot off. Thomson would have been in his shirt.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    I would be fine with not seeing Thompson back out there. He is not a very good defender.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    I thought Portland was way more physical than the Fire and was hoping Baky would bring the pain. Thompson is a mad man he plays with a lot of intensity but he is also a liability. I like him a lot because the guy has a lot of heart and fight in him but you never want to play a man down and he acts before he thinks. He has also put a target on his back, refs know this guy is out for blood. So even in a situation where it's questionable, he goes in hard a card will be pulled out.

  • In reply to john:

    Just my neanderthal gene that likes the scrapper over guys standing there and watching a guy take a shot and score. Understand the liability , especially if he can't stay on the field. The Gargan deal is like a sore that won't heal for this team.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    Very true. I'm still dumbfounded by them releasing the Gargan. Absolutely dumbfounded.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    A chant that was misinterpreted perhaps. Here's a guy that doesn't make a whole lot of money, plays his heart out and is a capable defender. Clearly was a guy that we could have used this year.

  • was at the game yesterday and thought that macdonald played his best game this season.

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    We were also unlucky to score early in the game. However, Portland taking over the game from 20 minutes to 60 was hard to see. Especially at home. We need a good young enforcer in the middle along with a good CAM. Man, just too many parts to fix on this squad at the moment.

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    To not score I meant.

  • True. GR and I have said it before but it bears repeating....this team as it stands is good enough to make the playoffs, but won't content for the Cup until it adds a few more pieces.

  • Did anyone else notice that Jeff Larentowicz and Mike Magee were our captains? Could anyone imagine that being the case last season? These guys were thorns in our sides for years and now they are leading our team. Only in MLS I guess

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    We discuss the armband in the next podcast episode.

  • MacDonald seemed to be playing better and had more hustle, he is pretty good at holding the ball and can put quality crosses in the box. His salary is high for a guy that can't finish but if we can't move him maybe he can have success that way. Magee will also free up space for him to have opportunities so that should give him better opportunities to score as well. Watching the game on TV Saturday you could see the difference in Santos and MacDonald's body language when they were coming into the game. They looked excited and eager to get in there and played with energy, the Fire had become a team that players want to be a part of and I sense that they believe that they can salvage the season and want to. It's infectious because as a fan I feel the same way. I know there are still holes and problems with this team but I feel positive and hopeful.

  • I didn't get to watch the game too closely, and didn't see the first half, but I also thought that MacDone showed more than he has for a long time. Santos was not as effective as I think we've seen him in the past, though.

    Magee's goal is one I will replay time and again for the kids I coach, and it is one that MacDone would do well to watch every night before he goes to bed. The lesson: be a pest to defenders and don't give up on the ball. It's not a highlight-reel goal but just like the second US goal against Germany it shows what some strategic pressure can do to force defensive breakdowns. And frankly, we don't need highlight-reel goals, we don't even need to find the back of the net - we just need to get the ball over the line in between the sticks.

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    First I agree that serj had a much better game than he has all season. Maybe, if we bring him off the bench and use him as a winger during this series of tightly scheduled games we could get more rest and use him as depth for our team. If we put him in a position where he doesn't have to score every game it will take the pressure off him and get him going a little bit? Second, I'm curious what everyone thinks we should do regarding our central midfield. With pause out we have had to put in a somewhat more offensive CM, when pause comes back to we go back to our defensive style? I thought Alex and paladini had good games and deserve their chances. That being said I know we need to have a DM on the field but who deserves that CAM role Paladini or Alex? Either way I hope we continue trying to play somewhat more offensively even when pause is back.

  • In reply to Armando Talancon:

    I think your question about the midfield is spot-on. We saw two different teams out there on Saturday, and there should be no question in anyone's mind which performed better...

    Regarding the midfield, Larentowitz is undoubtedly a good player - but without Pause beside him, he seems overwhelmed. Alongside Pause, he seems much more effective - but is that duo really able to generate offense or push the transition? It seems the answer is an emphatic no. Alex played a great two-way game on Saturday, and continues to impress - and Paladini, well, he just needs to be on the field more at this point. No question an Alex/Paladini midfield puts more pressure on our defense, but they put more pressure on theirs as well, and you can't win without scoring...

    Regarding up top - I hate to say it, but if anything, Saturday reinforces my thoughts re: Rolfe. Talented player, and great guy - but seemingly not a great fit for a Magee-anchored offense (or anything else we've thrown at teams thus far). Given the talent there, it seems a shame not to use him - but how? Can we try him out on the wing (out of traffic, and with some room to move), or in a 'late game spark' sub role? In the meantime, Santos' sheer presence and physicality alongside Magee really needs to be explored further. He may not have had a great game on the ball, but there is no question that his mere presence commanded respect from the defense and helped make chances.

    MacD - that's an entirely different topic. Undoubtedly his best showing of the season, but... Perhaps Frank thought he offered the best option, but that has to be offset against the background situation. Are we just creating more confusion/uncertainty?

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    In reply to colbyaw:

    Yes! I would love to see some more of Alex and Paladini on the field at the same time. It would be great fun to watch theoffensive powerhouse that would follow with that if we can find one more good striker during the transfer window. One thought I had was possibly pushing Alex into the second striker role. He has good ball control and seems to like to take a crack at goal even from distance and with him and magee it could be good that would then free up a CAM role for Paladini and when Pause is healthy he takes over that CDM role and even though I like Larentowitz I agree he seems somewhat lost without Pause. (on a side note doe anyone else notice that almost every ball Big red plays is a long ball over the top? I would like to see a simple pas now and then.) Then Pause would be able to play defensively and we would hav a few guys that have been playing well as of late in the lineup and the guys that are somewhat in a rut would have a chance to get themselves gathered for their next chance.

  • In reply to Armando Talancon:

    Pause and Larento at the same time is a better pairing when we're up 2 nil and defending a lead. Larento plays that long ball a lot to counter but we also tend to lose possession this way. I think we should start Alex and Paladini to try and get an early lead.

  • Episode 35 is up. Recap of the Timbers match, some Paladini praise, and the aforementioned chat about the armband included.

    http://FirePodFC.com

  • This Fireside digital magazine is pretty awesome.....

    http://chicagofire.gtxcel.com/fireside/june_2013#pg48

    Props to Jeff Harbert and the digital team.

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