Without Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Fire didn’t enjoy the possession and midfield control that they’ve exerted over the last two months but they still managed to come away with a hard-earned point in a difficult place to play. The Portland Timbers were able to get more looks on goal and found more space in the middle of the pitch without the Fire’s first choice central pairing available, and yet Chicago was still able to head into the final twenty minutes of the match with a lead.
The play wasn't as free-flowing, the passing wasn't as crisp, and gaps weren't closed as quickly but it's a testament to how far this team has come that they were able to get a result in this match in the fashion that they did. Arturo Alvarez delivered as a substitute starter, and Brandon Vincent provided a clutch first career MLS goal to put the Fire even on points with Toronto FC, who defeated Orlando City on the road to temporarily move ahead in the standings.
As it stands at the Gold Cup break, the Fire and Toronto FC are level on points with 38 (11-3-5) but the Fire assume the top of the table by virtue of the goal differential tie-breaker. The Fire will resume play on July 22 away to New York City FC.
Now unbeaten in 11 MLS matches, the Fire have come a long way indeed. The dread of losing road matches has all but disappeared as they continue to show they are capable of winning under every circumstance presented before them.
GK Matt Lampson (6) - Outguessed on the Adi's penalty kick and Blanco's goal came as a result of a clear look. Faced 24 shots and his 7 saves weren't difficult but he was composed under pressure for most of the match.
D Brandon Vincent (7) - Wasn't great with passing numbers but did come through with several key defensive sequences including 5 recoveries and 6 clearances. A fantastic left-footed finish the found the underside of the left corner crossbar and back of the net in the 61st minute gave the Fire the lead.
D Joao Meira (5.5) - A block of Adi's attempt in the 37th after the big forward got behind him denied a good chance but he was out of position on the second Portland goal which opened up the back line in front of Lampson.
D Johan Kappelhof (6.5) - 5 recoveries, 5 clearances, 2 interceptions, 2 blocks. Stepped up well to keep Valeri from advancing the ball on several occasions. Doesn't get much publicity as one of the better centerbacks in the league, but he's in the picture.
D Matt Polster (6) - Left the match in the 35 with an apparent leg injury after he was hit from behind. The Fire were definitely less effective on the right side without him.
M Juninho (5) - Unlucky to have slipped in the 23rd and the ball deflected off his arm to get Portland to the penalty spot. Lost track of Blanco as he attempted to step up on the ball allowing the space for the second Timbers goal. Tasked with a difficult job of replacing Schweinsteiger in front of the backline against a good Portland attack and he did manage to complete 94% of his passes while the team only hit at 73% overall however. Credited with an assist on Alvarez's goal.
M Micheal de Leeuw (6) - Another big effort helped hide the absences of the team's two best central midfielders. Didn't get a lot done offensively but plays like the 60-yard sprint just before half-time to stop a break following a bad pass are what makes de Leeuw so valuable to what the Fire have been able to do.
M Luis Solignac (5.5) - Held back a bit with de Leeuw in trying to cover the middle of the field and didn't have many chances getting forward. Struggled a bit in passing and possession.
M David Accam (6) - Not as prominent as he has been in other games but still was able to get a few balls towards Nikolic for close chances. Credited with an assist on Vincent's goal.
M Arturo Alvarez (7) - Not always pretty but the results were effective. His cross toward Nikolic in the 34th just missed the forward but was dangerous enough to find the back of the net on its own. Also assisted on Vincent's goal. Delivered in his role as a spot starter and enabled the Fire to come away with a point here.
F Nemanja Nikolic (6) - Could have been credited with his 17th goal of the year as it was unclear if he touched Alvarez's cross in the 34th. He set the record straight and the goal was awarded to his teammate. Didn't score but came close on a few other chances. A shot from outside the area in the 83rd just missed and was tipped out by Gleeson for a corner.
D Drew Conner (5) - Replaced Polster at right back in the 35th. Portland was able to generate some play through the right side and several give-aways put the Fire on the defensive unnecessarily.
D Jonathan Campbell (6) - Subbed in for Solignac in the 65th to protect the lead and give the Fire some more size in the back against Adi. A big block on Nagbe in the 88th denied a good chance.
M Djordje Mihailovic (5.5) - Replaced Accam in the 83rd. Complete 5 of 6 pass attempts.