MLS matchup report: Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers handicapping

Matchup: Fire vs. Timbers insight

The Portland Timbers dominated this series last season, including the opener at JELD-WEN Field, but currently sits dead last in the Western Conference and comes into this one against a Fire team in form.

Matchup: Portland Timbers v Chicago Fire
Date: Sunday, May 20, 2012
Time: Kick-off: 7:00 PM EST
Venue: JELD-WEN Field — Portland, Oregon
TV:ROOT Sports
Spread: Fire +185, Timbers +140, Draw +210,
Over/Under: 2.5

The Timbers will begin a run of four games in nine days, while Chicago is playing its third in 11 when the two meet on Sunday for the first time this season.

Chicago is literally on Fire, taking points from nine games, and are currently sitting fourth in the East.

Meanwhile, Portland has been shut out for the third straight match, but have been playing better defense as of late, allowing just two goals in that span, after conceding 11 in its first seven games of the 2012 season.

First the Timbers couldn’t keep goals out of its own net–now they can’t find a way to put them into the oppositions’.

Kris Boyd

Kris Boyd leads the Timbers with 3 goals. (Photo Credit - PortlandTimbers.com)

It’s sink or swim time for Portland whose recent resurgent D will take a hit after Mamadou Danso was slapped with a one-game ban for a late tackle on Calen Carr in a nil-nil draw with the Houston Dynamo their last time out.

However, Jack Jewsbury as a defender looks like a natural fit, and if he is able to function as a Captain in a much more effective role running the back line, maybe the loss of Danso for one match can be mitigated.

Also, his experience as a midfielder will allow him to switch over from time to time and aid a Timber attack that so desperately needs to improve if they are going to win games.

So, they will look to the duo of Darlington Nagbe and Scotsman Kris Boyd who both lead the squad with three goals, but have been held off the scoreboard as of late.

Boyd for the past four matches, while Nagbe’s drought dates back to March 31.

While it appears that that the offense is certainly working hard, the midfield and forwards aren’t even on the same page when it comes to creating chances for the Timbers.

The forwards seem to be creating space in traffic, but they’ve not linked up well with teammates with enough consistency.

At this point, all Timbers fans can hope for here is that the team can use its mediocre momentum from their solid defensive showing against the Dynamo, to springboard all the way from the bottom to the top of the Western Conference with a string of wins that begins on Sunday.

It will require a dramatic turnabout, but one I think the Timbers are capable of if they stay together and on the same page.


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