Fire hold off the Timbers for the tie to stay at the top of the MLS Standings
PORTLAND – Perspectives on the final result on Wednesday night could vary from supporter to supporter.
Some could salute the team’s efforts without midfielders Dax McCarty or Bastian Schweinsteiger, in front of a normally rowdy Portland crowd and against a relentless Timbers attack that outshot them 4-to-1. Others might hold a bit of disappointment that a second half lead could hold for the full 90 minutes.
But either way, a 2-2 tie meant one thing for the Chicago Fire: A spot at the top of the MLS Standings.
The result gives the team a point that puts them at 38 for the year, tied with Toronto FC for the top spot in the league as the team goes on a 17-day break for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. From now until July 22nd when they travel to Yankee Stadium to face New York City FC, the Fire can say they’re the best in the MLS as they extend their unbeaten streak in league play to 11.
Staying there figured to be a challenge even beforehand considering the Timbers came in 5-1-3 at Providence Park – one of the toughest venues in the MLS. With McCarty (US National Team) and Schweinsteiger (Hip) out of the lineup, generating offense would be a struggle for most of the night.
Yet the Fire managed to rally from an early 1-0 deficit to tie the game when Arturo Alvarez’ long left-footed shot from the right side tucked inside the far post in the 34th minute. Alvarez had the assist on the second goal of the night in the 61st minute when he scooted the pass across the box to Brandon Vincent who put home his first goal of the year to make it 2-1.
The lead lasted nine minutes before Sebastian Blanco evened the game with a score in the 70th minute and the Fire held on from there. Solid defense pushed shot after shot away up till stoppage time before Timbers appeared to have the winning goal on a header by Fanendo Ali. But the refs ruled that he’d shoved Fire defender Joao Meira to get a clean look at the corner kick and disallowed the goal.
It sealed up a tie for the Fire that keeps them at the top as a surprise season continues to produce results into mid-July.