Dispatch: Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers

The Chicago Way. (photo: chicago-fire.com)

The Chicago Way (photo: chicago-fire.com)

OTF’s Shane Nicholson is back with a report from Toyota Park on Chicago’s dramatic 2-2 comeback draw with Portland…

The Fire somehow found a way to drag a point out of Saturday’s Battle in Bridgeview with the well-hot Portland Timbers.

It wasn’t even so much a game of two halves as one of three thirds and a whole lot of good luck, as early on Portland crashed Sean Johnson’s goal often and with much ease, finding the woodwork three times in the first four minutes alone. With Will Johnson and Ben Zemanski bossing the middle of the park and effectively putting the insufferable and at times inexcusable Jeff Larentowicz in their back pockets, it looked to be a long night ahead.

As the pummeling continued, it became clear that Jalil Anibaba had a blind spot for Mike Harrington, as the Timbers left back was continually allowed time and space to send in cross after cross. Warning signs aplenty from that flank, and some we were quite lucky to duck.

When Diego Valeri collected a flick-on from Freddie Piquionne it seemed Anibaba and Bakary Soumare were more concerned with making sure he knew where the goal mouth was as opposed to perhaps stopping his run.

0-1 and Chicago was lucky to only be down that much at the half.

The first 30 minutes of the second half were going much the same. Overrun in midfield, overrun on the wings, embarrassing at the back at times, the Fire looked set to cave.

In the 58th, Piquionne took another meandering run down the right before cutting back for Zemanski, whose run was so blatantly telegraphed I’m guessing Larentowicz thought he was faking it. It’s the only reason to explain why no one felt the need to pick him up or even ponder closing him down.

0-2, sinking ship.

And then something happened: A real honest-to-god midfielder showed up on the pitch in a red shirt.

Yes, that man Danny Paladini — you know, our best and most consistent player this season who Klopas refuses to start because of whatever photos the Ginger has of him in compromising situations — came on and the game changed dramatically.

Funny what happens when you bring on a midfielder who can complete a pass.

Mike Magee’s third in three was off a nice through-ball from Alex and a fortunate miscommunication between Andrew Jean-Baptiste and his goalkeeper Milos Kocic, with neither Andrew nor Milos too keen on making a clearance. Kocic went down and with hands of pure stone knocked the ball directly into the path of Magee, who calmly took a touch past the car crash and slotted home. It was the 68th, and the game was back on.

Paladini continued to carve out space in the Portland midfield and the chances started coming for the Fire more and more. Sadly, most of them resulted in free kicks — which if the point of the game was to find new and creative ways to piss away, the Fire’d be quite good at it.

Thankfully, when the Dutch Waste of Space (aka Sherjill MacDonald) decided to do a bit of work for the first time this season, he found Magee in the channel, who drew a foul in the 82nd.

Then, once again in 2013, it was that man Paladini to the rescue — taking his cue from Magee to have a go and bending it around the wall and into the upper 90.

The Men in Red had it back 2-2 and were all riding the back of number 11.

It’s a point saved for the Fire for sure, and two lost for a team that’s riding a 12-game hot streak. Not a bad result from where Chicago was in the first 60 minutes. But it again begs the question as to why Klopas simply refuses to play his best players.

Alex and Paladini were outstanding in the middle of the park together, and Maicon Santos was dangerous from wide right positions once he came on. These are three players who have shown over and over that they deserve to be among the names on the team sheet every week.

But it was a result, an entertaining match, and good thoughts all around. And now, if you’ll excuse me for leaving this a bit short, I’ve got to drop some Timbers folks off at O’Hare.

OTF’s Shane Nicholson is the founder and Executive Editor of TheCoplandRoad.org – He drinks a lot, has a beard, and lives in Rockford. You can find him on Twitter at @ofvoid

18 thoughts on “Dispatch: Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers

  1. Have to disagree sightly with the Santos argument. Aside from the one horrible opportunity he squandered when Big Mess(I believe) set him up towards the end, I didn’t see him doing anything note worthy. That being said if you wanted to throw him into the mix to replace a Rolfe I don’t see why not. Rolfe to me seems to be in and out of games way to much. Whether or not that problem gets fixed by Maicon is another matter entirely. Spot on with Alex and Paladini though.

    • I didn’t think it was Maicon’s best showing but he offered a lot more than the man he replaced. His movement is far better than Rolfe’s right now, creates a lot of space for fullbacks and midfielders to get into.

  2. I found the game to be the most entertaining game I’ve seen so far this season. Portland is definitely the superior side at this juncture. Luck had something to do with the end result also – but then again it always does – so throw that out the window.

    I give credit to the men in red for not caving, and instead for turning up the intensity to somehow find a way to force a draw. That is the kind of character that will turn this season around and I have to believe that a turn around is exactly what we are seeing.

    Yet, I do not understand the whole Larentowicz love affair either. I’ve come to the conclusion the team plays better when he is not in the game. It seems a no-brainer to me. And why on earth Paladini is not a starter is troubling to me as well.

    I suppose Kid Kloppas knows what he’s doing … at least I hope so.

    Onward lads!

    • Klopas only knows what he’s doing sometimes, and this is the problem. Don’t worry, his luck will run out again, and the Fire will continue to be a middling team with him at the helm. Forza Fotios!

  3. Completely disagree. The turn in the game had absolutely nothing to do with Palidini, whose only real contribution was the admittedly amazing free kick. The turning point was the goal by Magee (with the assist by the Timbers keeper). After that the whole team played better. Alex, Magee and Nyarko were the keys to finding the way to come back. Larenowitz is a decent player. Palidini is a great sub. The Fire got a bit lucky. End of story.

    • I’m sympathetic to your opinion, John. Alex has done a good job the past four games, and he’ll only get better with more playing time. He deserves to start. The elephant in the room is Chris Rolfe. Nobody wants to talk about his lack of productivity this season. I’d like to see him benched, in concert with a switch to a 4-3-3.

      • I’ll talk about it. He’s embarrassing. I was in the front row on Saturday night and had plenty of chances to see Rolfe up-close. He borderline quit after that second Portland goal. Multiple times, he just stood and watched the ball roll slowly past him instead of running after it. Lots of fans behind me were screaming at Rolfe to “****ing move his feet.”

        I don’t know what’s wrong with the guy, but he doesn’t look motivated. My guess is that Kid Klopas feels pressured to start the players he’s paying the most, but it’s painfully obvious when you watch a match that guys like Paladini, Alex, Nyarko, and now Magee, are the guys who are passionate and driven, even when we go down 0-2. Some of the older guys (excluding Gonzo), seem to be so depressed by our season thus far that they go catatonic after we concede a goal.

        As for Maicon, he may not be a true striker, but he’s got twice as many goals in MLS competition this season than Rolfe, he seems to want it more, and he’s a giant. My ideal starters, until we ship the Recliner off and bring in another DP (or two), would always include Paladini, Santos, and Alex. At this point, I would much rather see Santos and Amerikwa on the field than Rolfe or the Recliner. The former are creative, driven, and they’ve actually scored goals this season.

        I’d also be okay with Lindpere never seeing the field again. And the Ginga Ninja isn’t the same player he used to be.

        1. Klopas needs to take his eyes off the salary sheet and put them on the field.
        2. Rolfe and Soumare need to take a look at their fitness/drive/attitude.
        3. The Recliner has to go. He’s already said plenty of teams in Belgium would love to have him back, which to me sounds like someone who doesn’t want to be here anymore. What a waste of $600k.

  4. Great re-cap Shane. Timbers really are a class team when they can lose 4 of their best and still dominate most of an away game like this. Fire’s back four better settle in fast.

    I keep hearing rumors that Chicago is going to be active again in the transfer market… what do you suppose we’ll be looking to buy (and sell for that matter)?

    • I think they’ll go for a striker in July. I also think they’ll look to loan MacDonald through 2013, which will allow them to unload him for good.

      What I’d really like to see is them use the intraleague loan policy to get rid of Lindpere and bring in a third CB.

  5. Not sure that RBNY and Lindpere have a future together, but if you’re looking for a CB – can I interest you in a man by the name of Digao?

      • He’s the bait in RBNY’s ineffective Kaka-trap. Kaka’s little brother.
        Injury and the fact that he’s fourth on our CB depth chart mean that he hasn’t played a minute this season (and played about a minute last season – from which we learned he can be decent in the air).
        Costs NY about $200K/year for the hope Kaka looks kindly on Harrison.
        Not an attractive target for a trade, but if you want a big body in case of emergency, a loan might suit both parties. He’s not doing much of anything right now.

          • Two suits for petke and good seats for a Stanley cup game for roxburgh would probably suffice. I don’t think we have a lot of leverage.
            But a midfielder with a decent left foot and an eye for goal would be useful…as would a target man…

              • (Most) Fans would be happy to see him back. Not sure he would want it, though rumor has it he stopped by the arena the last time you guys were in the vicinity.

                We don’t need 2011 Lindpere, just a guy to spell Jonny Steele.
                I’d make that trade very happily. Especially if it’s a rental for both sides.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s