Second Half Goal Turns Fire into Smoke
Shutout Streak, over. Winless Streak, over. Streak of Cellar Dwelling, Over.
The Portland Timbers (3-5-3, 12 points, eighth in the Western Conference) ceeded a one goal lead, but refused to give up a second one in front of their home crowd.
The Chicago Fire (4-3-3, 15 points, fourth in the Eastern Conference) suffered a second half burnout in front of a sold-out crowd 20,438 at Jeld-Wen Field as the Timbers took away three points in a 2-1 victory and elevated themselves out of last place in the Western Conference.
In the victory, the squad ended their scoreless streak and winless streaks at four matches.
They also climbed out of last for the first time since losing to the L.A. Galaxy on April 13th.
Without two of their most important players, Mamadou “Footy” Danso (League Suspension) and Jack Jewsbury (Hip), the rest of the Timbers picked up the slack on both side of the pitch, highlighted by an elevated sense of urgengcy on the offensive side of the ball.
Despite physical play from both teams, the Timbers kept their composure and were rewarded with sorely needed points.
1). An Early Strike
Eric Brunner scored his first goal of the season that came from a corner kick from Franck Songo’o that bounced around like a pinball before Brunner was finally able to tuck away his sixth career MLS goal in the 18th minute, giving Portland an early 1-0 lead.
The goal was a relief for a team and a fanbase that had 340 consecutive minutes without a Timbers player scoring a goal via an “own goal.”
2). Sal Zizzo
If there are any lingering effects from Sal Zizzo’s time away from the pitch, the midfielder has quite a way of hiding them. Zizzo saw his action for the second time this season as he entered the match at the start of the second half after returning earlier this week from an ACL injury.
In seven short minutes into his stint, Zizzo left his footprint on the match in front of the Timbers Army faithful.
His corner kick from the near side of the field set-up Portland’s second goal of the match, courtesy of an own goal. Zizzo’s pass careened off the forehead of Timbers’ leading scorer Kris Boyd towards the net that was deflected by a Chicago player before sending Timbers fans into a frenzy.
3). Second Half Defense
The Timbers have given up a league-worst seven goals in the final 15 minutes of play, goals which have deprived them of conference positioning due to points that have taken out from under them.
Goalkeeper Troy Perkins was stellar once again in front of the net, though many of his threats came in the first half.
The Fire did make runs at the net in the second half as they attempted to maintain the pressure that Portland exhibited on their net, but the difference was that the Timbers stepped up when they needed to and provided Perkins support for the second straight match.
1). Shots On Goal
Where are they? The Timbers created plenty of opportunities on the offensive side of the ball, but just did not get shots on goal, similar to their performance against the Dynamo in Houston.
The team was fortunate, though not lucky given their aggressivesness, to get two on the board and still come away with a win.
For Timbers fans, there was little to complain about during the match. While they still have not managed to score multiple goals in the same match from their own feet, the team is slowly building momentum, earning four points in the week.
The Timbers extended their home sellout streak to 23 matches. Portland leads the all-time series with the Fire 3-0-0 with a 7-2 scoring advantage.
The teams will not play meet again in 2012. The Timbers are now 3-2-1 at home this year, meanwhile Chicago dropped to 2-2-1 on the road. Overall, Portland improved to 2-2-0 when scoring first and 2-2-2 when tied at the half.
Chicago still does not having a losing record in seven matches when tied at the half, as they are now 2-2-3 when doing so.
Up next for the Timbers is an exhibition with Spanish La Liga’s Valencia CF on May 23rd at Jeld-Wen Field.
The Timbers’ next MLS action will take place in a Cascadia Cup tilt with the Vancouver Whitecaps (5-3-3, 18 points, fourth in the Western Conference) at Jeld-Wen Field on May 26.
PORT – Eric Brunner 20th minute
CHI – Jalil Anibaba 39th minute
PORT – Logan Pause (OG) 52nd minute
CHI – Patrick Nyarko (Yellow Card) 45th minute
PORT – Mike Chabala (Yellow Card) 45th minute
CHI – Gonzalo Segares (Yellow Card) 48th minute
PORT – Salvatore Zizzo (Yellow Card) 79th minute
CHI – Sebastian Grazzini (Yellow Card) 80th minute
CHI – Austin Berry (Yellow Card) 85th minute