MatchDay Preview: Portland open new era at JELD-WEN Field, host Chicago
It promises to be a magical night as the Portland Timbers make their MLS home debut at Jeld-Wen Field, taking on the Chicago Fire in front of an ESPN2 audience. The Timbers are coming off their first MLS point, following a 1-1 draw in New England on April 2. The Fire returned last weekend with their first loss of the campaign, falling 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC at the start of their two-game Cascadia swing.
Portland Timbers make their home debut coming off their first point in MLS, following a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution on April 2 at Gillette Stadium. The Timbers have 1 point from 3 games, sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference.
- The Revolution took the lead on 22 minutes as Portland failed to clear on three separate occasions before the ball finally bounced out to Stephen McCarthy on the edge of the area. The rookie midfielder hit a bouncing volley that nestled into the far right corner of the net.
- Portland responded with the leveler seven minutes before halftime. Kenny Cooper provided the impetus with an enterprising diagonal run through midfield. He then played a diagonal ball back into Jeremy Hall just above the penalty spot. Hall held off two defenders and then laid the ball off for Jack Jewsbury to slot home with his left foot.
- Timbers coach John Spencer made three changes to the team that lost 2-0 to Toronto FC at BMO Field. Jake Gleeson started in goal for Adin Brown, and James Marcelin and Kalif Alhassan came into the midfield for Ryan Pore and Peter Lowry.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Jake Gleeson – Steve Purdy, David Horst, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace – Jeremy Hall (Darlington Nagbe 66), Jack Jewsbury, James Marcelin, Kalif Alhassan – Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Brian Umony 46).
- While waiting for the newly refurbished JELD-WEN Field to be completed for the season opener, the Timbers played their first three games on the road, finally coming away with a point in New England.
- "It feels great because we knew we were capable of getting points on the road," midfielder Jeremy Hall said. "We knew we would have to come out and compete. We were going for three (points), but to come out of it with a point is still good."
- Now awaiting them will be a full house with the atmosphere evoking memories of more than three decades of soccer in the Rose City. “It will be a special atmosphere, but we can’t stand around admiring our fans,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “You’ve got to get your head in the game and play well.”
- While Troy Perkins was expecting to receive medical clearance to play in the home opener, he was listed as out in the club’s injury report, meaning Jake Gleeson will likely get the nod between the posts. Gleeson came in at halftime for an injured Adin Brown against TFC, then made his first MLS start against New England.
- "It's definitely a difficult situation for me. I'd love to play in the first home-opener and I would be gutted if I didn't make that starting spot," Gleeson said to The Oregonian. "You can't say you're OK with it. You do understand, but it would be devastating."
- Perkins has been battling back from a partially torn knee ligament suffered in mid-March, four days before the season opener.
- "Jake's been doing well. But when you hear people say, '(Jake's) the No. 1 (goalkeeper),' I'm like, 'Wait a minute. I haven't had a chance to show myself or prove what I can do,' " Perkins said. "I haven't even played yet."
- Through their first three games, the Timbers have hit for two goals – the lowest attacking output in the league so far this season, matching that of the New York Red Bulls (who have played one more game).
- "It's important for forwards to hit the ground running and score goals. We know that," Spencer said to The Oregonian. "If we weren't getting any chances, then I would be concerned. But we're getting chances. Every forward goes through this."
- After keeping the same lineup in the first two games, Spencer made a pair of changes in the midfield for the game in New England, giving starts to former D-2 Timbers Kalif Alhassan and James Marcelin after their performance in Portland’s Open Cup victory vs. Chivas USA.
- “If you play, well you’re going to stay on the team,” Spencer said. “If you don’t play, well then we’re going to have to put someone else on the team and give them a chance. That’s just the nature of the beast.”
- There will be a change for certain in the back line for the home opener, with center back David Horst out to an ankle injury suffered in training. Horst had come in for Kevin Goldthwaite after he started the first two games.
The Chicago Fire lost for the first time in 2011, falling 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday afternoon at Qwest Field. The Fire have 4 points from 3 matches on the year, in a three-way tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
- Sounders FC took the lead after just seven minutes. Mauro Rosales drove in a cross from the right flank and O'Brian White beat tight marking to snap home a header inside the near post.
- The Fire pulled level less than a minute later. Patrick Nyarko sped away down the right and sent in a low cross, where Diego Cháves beat the Seattle defense into the box and finished tidily to the back post.
- Seattle took the lead again in the 25th minute. Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White unlocked the defense with a neat give-and-go down the left side, with Zakuani turning the corner and slipping a tight-angle shot under goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
- Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos made one change to the team that defeated Sporting Kansas City 3-2 at Toyota Park. Dasan Robinson started in place of the injured Josip Mikulic on the back line.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Dasan Robinson, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares (Dominic Oduro 83) - Patrick Nyarko (Orr Barouch 93+), Logan Pause, Michael Videira, Marco Pappa - Diego Chaves, Gaston Puerari,
- The loss in Seattle was the first of the season for the Fire, after a win and a draw in league play and also advancing in the U.S. Open Cup.
- “I think the team played well, and I think we had a very good second half,” Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos said.
- “We had two mistakes, and they took advantage of this. (But) I like my team because they are showing the evolution our team is having this season. We had some chances to score, and we couldn’t come away with more goals.”
- Diego Cháves has scored goals in each of the Fire’s first three games, becoming the first player in club history to score goals in his first three appearances.
- The other half of the Fire’s all-Uruguayan strike pair, Gastón Puerari, assisted on the Diego Cháves goal in Seattle, his first in MLS (to go along with one goal). The pair played a part in four of Chicago’s first five goals this season.
- With Josip Mikulic back home in Chicago with a quadriceps injury, Dasan Robinson came into the lineup as the Fire returned to a back four. But de los Cobos continues to try out his team with three in the back.
- ‘‘We played it briefly last spring at UNC, and I was on the right side then, too,’’ rookie Jalil Anibaba said. ‘‘But it’s a completely different situation here. When we’ve played it, it gives us a different dynamic.’’
- Winger Patrick Nyarko was able to return to full training in advance of the Portland match after being involved in a harsh challenge from Seattle’s Servando Carrasco late in Saturday’s match.
- “I’m all right,” Nyarko said. “I went to training today and it’s not too bad; just a big bruise but nothing that I can’t fight through.”