Fire v Timbers match preview

Coming away with a result in Portland probably won't nullify the embarrassing first kick performance against Chivas USA but earning at least a point will provide some optimism heading into the home opener next week. Getting off to an 0-2 start may begin to mount pressure on players who must be anticipating the possible repurcussions of another slow start to open the season. During a conference call with reporters on Thursday afternoon Frank Yallop hinted that Benji Joya and Quincy Amarikwa could both be in the starting line up this coming Sunday and those changes become even more likely if Mike Magee and Chris Rolfe aren't available in Portland.

The back line will also need to perform much better than they did to open the season because indications are that this technical staff won't hesitate to make changes no matter what age, experience, or salary structure dictates. Bakary Soumare in particular will need to brush off a rough opening match to keep his place in the first eleven.

The Timbers scored on a late set piece to draw against Philadelphia in their opener but they weren't particularly good in the final third before then despite holding a 57-43 advantage in possession against the Union. Jeff Larentowicz may need help ahead of the defenders if the Fire hope to keep the Timbers' 4-3-3 from controlling the ball and the pace of the match. Going smaller with Quincy Amarikwa up top in place of Juan Luis Anangono may help as would Benji Joya in a central role. The Fire can't allow Portland to control the ball as often as Chivas USA did against them or they're in store for a long afternoon.

The Timbers were shaky themselves on set piece defending but the Fire weren't particularly good from dead ball situations either so losing a bigger target in Anangono may not factor into the equation when considering a starting line up on Sunday. Not allowing large amounts of possesion and making the home team defend will be the keys here.

Potential line ups

Fire: Johnson; Segares, Soumare, Hurtado, Palmer; Larentowicz, Joya; Duka, Alex, Nyarko; Amarikwa

top subs: Magee, Shipp

Timbers: Ricketts; Jewsbury, Paparatto, Danso, Harrington; Chara, Valeri, Johnson; Nagbe, Urruti, Fernandez

top subs: Zakuani, Alhassan

Injury report

Fire - QUESTIONABLE: F Mike Magee (hip tightness), M Chris Rolfe (foot contusion)

Timbers - OUT: M Steven Evans (back surgery), M Rodney Wallace (L ACL surgery) - QUESTIONABLE: M Steve Zakuani (sports hernia surgery), M Kalif Alhassan (groin strain), D Pa Modou Kah (hamstring strain)

Referee

Marcos de Oliveira

Prediction

The Fire have something to prove after a highly disappointing start to the season. They may be catching the Timbers at less than high gear if their first match is any indication. Given the Fire's struggles on turf and recent history in Portland, avoiding an 0-2 start will be a big challenge.

Timbers 2 Fire 1

The rest of the league

Don't go to the window with any of these. My start to the season was worse than the Fire's at 1-7.

Philadelphia 2 New England 1

New York 2 Colorado 0

Seattle 2 Toronto FC 1

Sporting KC 1 FC Dallas 0

Houston 2 Montreal 0

San Jose 1 Real Salt Lake 1

Chivas USA 1 Vancouver 2

 

Filed under: 2014 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

Comments

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  • Missed out on first week predictions, but I'm going with the following this week:

    Portland 1 Fire 0
    Philadelphia 1 New England 2
    New York 1 Colorado 1
    Seattle 1 Toronto FC 0
    Sporting KC 2 FC Dallas 0
    Houston 2 Montreal 1
    San Jose 1 Real Salt Lake 2
    Chivas USA 1 Vancouver 3

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    No love for the Chivas USA juggernaut?

  • Fire - QUESTIONABLE: F Mike Magee (hip tightness)

    So what is it? The hip or the hamstring? Or is it a case of making something up?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    It's a legit injury from what I understand. There is no ulterior motive behind sitting Magee.
    It's apparently an issue just above the hamstring area which is why they've described it as hip tightness.

  • I really hope Soumare turns it around after a pretty poor first match. I think many of us were concerned by Yallop's decision to trade Berry and instead keep Soumare. My patience is already pretty thin with the latter, I'm just hoping that Yallop sees something in him that might portend to a brighter '14 as compared with recent years.

  • Interesting Anibaba is bench warming in Seattle...(along with my boy Chad Barrett)

  • In reply to Drew:

    Beaten out by Djimi Traore apparently.

  • If the back 4 plays as poorly as they did last week, maybe they will bring in Arne as a guest coach for a few weeks. Watched the Seattle-Toronto game. Watching soccer played on the field is painful. MLS should force the Sounders to install a new field. If there is a team that can afford an upgrade its Seattle. Seriously, the field detracts from the game.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    oh, but what a joy it is to watch players like bradley, defoe, dempsey, etc in MLS. that was entertaining soccer!

  • Harry Shipp gets his first start!

  • Very interesting line up.....

    Johnson
    Segares, Soumare, Hurtado, Palmer
    Larentowicz, Shipp, Watson, Alex, Joya
    Amarikwa

    Bench: Reynish, Ianni, Nyarko, Pause, Cochrane, Pineda, Anangono

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    And THIS is the performance (so far) we've been looking for! They are all over the Timbers and are the better team in the 23rd minute. Hope they can keep it up.

  • So, anyone agree with me that Nyarko sucks now? Sigh.

  • We played so much better today than last week. I think the youth approach is a good one. These new guys are too good to only be playing here and there this season. Soumare improved his distance and height on some "passes" today. One that is stuck in my head still is the clearance from our attacking half that went close to 50 feet in the air and landed out of bounds for a goal kick. Looks like we have another DP striker that is going to sit on the bench too.

  • Huge improvement from last week. I heavily credit Frank for making all the changes he did.

    I think it's just starting to get interesting.

    Sunday could shape up to be an interesting match.

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