On March 31st, Chicago Fire defended their 3rd match of the season at home against Portland Timbers. The men in red have only faced a total of 8 league matches, where the Fire had yet to beat the Timbers, and today was their day to change that.
With players like Matt Polster, Jonathan Campbell, Djordje Mihailovic, and Michael de Leuuw being injured, coach Veljko Paunovic began experimenting. Starting the match with Dean as a right-back and Elliot Collier on the right wing, where Collier had some opportunities.
Tony Tchani had a poor performance in the match today with many of his passes not linking; also he seemed to lose the ball easily and remained weak on challenges. For example, in the 6th minute Tchani lost a challenge for the ball against Blanco, where Blanco spread the ball wide for Diego Valeri to make the score 0-1.
The Defense were once again sloppy, and it seems to have little to no improvement since the first match of the season. The entire first half was under the control of Portland Timbers. Fire seemed totally lost and couldn’t hold possession of the ball. In the 34th minute of play, Portland timbers started an attack, which led to the Fire applying no pressure. With a total of six Timber players in the penalty area. Brandon Vincent who was marking Portland player, Cristhian Paredes, did not add any pressure to Paredes’ attack. Vincent had left Paredes open to cross it into any area of 6 Portland players, and a half awake Fire defense.
We saw Nemanja Nikolic receive his third goal of the season in the 50th minute, not too long after Portland Timbers strikes back making the score 1-2 in the 55th minute. Because Vincent did not apply pressure onto the attack, blanco remained unmarked and took advantage of the cross.
Sebastian Blanco made this match difficult for the Fire, having 3 shots and 2 falling on target. He also had a 73% pass success and one assist.
Being down by one goal and the final whistle nearing, plenty of fans thought the Fire would have their 3rd loss of the season, others prayed for a miracle. The Fire may not have a Zlatan, but Brandon Vincent helped the Fire in the last 4 minutes of play, he tied the match. Vincent ending the match with 1 goal and 1 assist may not have played great defensively, but played effortlessly in the attack to keep the men in red alive.
Altogether , the Fire, a team that had begun to grow stronger are seemingly dropping tremendously compared to their last season, and still fail to show results of improvement.