LIVE from Providence Park, where the Timbers take on the Chicago Fire, and I battle a mean set of burning legs.
With 15 kilos of Shamrockin' lactic acid ravaging my stems, I've already run further this morning than Diego Chara will sprint all afternoon. My quads are more messed up than traffic downtown and I could use a bucket brigade of ice right about now. Sooo....how's your Sunday goin'?
Ah, but one tried-and-true cure for shattered shins is watching those much more fit than me run much more effectively than I ever could. So here I sit, calves verging on rigor mortis, ready to take in Soccer City's first matinee of the season. And having eked their way to a season-opening draw last week, the Timbers should feel pretty hot about their shot against a Chicago side without its best player (2013 MLS MVP Mike "Alliteration" Magee) and fresh off an "embarrassing" loss to Chivas USA. So, there's that.
Say, I'm just realizing that live-blogging in no way requires hamstrings! So click past the jump and follow along, as I deftly describe the action/devastation—on the pitch/throughout my body.
Chicago's First XI—(0-1-0, 0 pts)—Sean Johnson in goal. Lovel Palmer, Jhon Hurtado, Bakary Soumare and Gonzalo Segares on defense. Benji Joya, Jeff Larentowicz, Matt Watson Harrison Shipp and Alex at midfield. Quincy Amarikwa up front.
Available: Kyle Reynish, Juan Anangono, Greg Cochrane, Partrick Ianni, Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause, Victor Pineda.
Portland's First XI—(0-0-1, 1 pt)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Jack Jewsbury, Norberto Paparatto, Futty and Michael Harrington on defense. Diego Chara, Diego Valeri and Capt. Will Johnson at midfield. Darlington Nagbe, Max Urruti and Gaston Fernández up front.
Riding pine: Andrew Weber, Alvas Powell, Ben Zemanski, Rauwshan McKenzie, Michael Nanchoff, Steve Zakuani, Frederic Piquionne.
Maybe it's the morning start, but Timbers Army is a tad subdued at the moment. All sections are filling in there, but the rest of the crowd is a late-arriving one today. Maybe the sermon ran a bit long? Or is everyone still in line for brunch?
Timbers are sporting their Rose City Red third-choice kits today. They've yet to wear their first choice.
FIRST HALF: Timbers headed South...and away we go!
1st—Timbers with a giveaway in the box, but they aren't punished as Alex loses his footing.
2nd—Timbers with a free kick from 35. Fernandez sends it in and brings Johnson off his line. Futty collides with the big keeper and is down. Not good for a PTFC side thin in that spot...but he's back on his feet now and we'll have a goal kick.
4th—Valeri springs Nagbe in the box and he looks to Chara, who's taken down in the box. No foul, but we'll have a free kick. Nagbe might think about being more aggressive/selfish there, though perhaps not with his left foot. Corner comes in and is mis-hit by Paparrato and ping-ponged to Valeri, whose header is easily handled by Johnson.
7th—Timbers with some nice one-touch buildup, but Palmer steps in front of Urruti to knock it away. For the moment, at least: Timbers get it back and Urruti is caught offside.
9th—Alex with a seemingly innocuous turn and fires a laser of a volley that Ricketts leaps to knock away. First save of the afternoon for Ricketts, who needed to react quickly there. Corner kick comes in, but nothing doing for Chicago.
11th—Urruti knocked down 30 yards out and it'll be a dangerous free-kick opportunity for the Timbers. Johnson lining it up and gives it a knock, but it sails wide right.
15th—Amarikwa is sprung with a nice ball from Soumare and races into the box, bringing Ricketts of his line. Amarikwa tries to chip Ricketts, but the ball spins away from the goal and out of danger.
16th—Another dangerous moment for Chicago. Amarikwa gets around Paparrato and runs along the goal line before firing across the box. Another Fireman nearly gets a piece of it in front of the goal, but it's through the box.
19th—PENALTY KICK FOR CHICAGO! Amarikwa goes down in the box after Paparrato runs into him while a rather hopeful cross comes in. Timbers Army doesn't like the call, naturally, but a smart play by the pesky Amarikwa after beating Paparrato to the spot. Larentowicz lines it up...and converts. He goes right, Ricketts goes left. GOAL CHICAGO, Fire lead 1-0.
22nd—Amarikwa pushes ahead and fires from 25 yards out, but it slides way left and is no danger to Ricketts. Amarikwa doing the dirty work out there so far.
23rd—Urruti earns a corner for Portland. Will Johnson sends it in front and Sean Johnson jumps to punch it away.
25th—Timbers with some buildup, but it's snuffed out by a hard tackle on Urruti by Soumare. He'll earn a yellow card for that one, and Urruti is holding his ankle. No foul (offside was called before the late foul) and no hard (Urruti is back on his feet).
29th—Timbers appear to get jobbed on a throw-in. Jewsbury isn't happy about it, as he was ready to give it a toss before the ref reversed course. Everyone on the pitch thought it was PTFC ball (including the Fire, who appeared surprised to get it) and Timbers Army rains boos on the pitch—as is their custom.
33rd—Fire free kick taken by Shipp after a questionable call by the far-too-involved-in-this-match referee. It sails far-post and Jewsbury does well to turn and head it over the line. Corner kick, Chicago.
34th—No worries for Portland on the corner, but Chicago maintains possession and continues to pressure the Timbers. The second team in two weeks to do that, by the way.
35th—Timbers earn a corner and before I can say "Fernandez" he lofts it into the box. Johnson skies to grab it.
38th—The sun has come out! Timbers with a bit more offensive pressure in the last minute or two. Segares called for a foul and Portland will have a free kick from in front of the Chicago bench.
39th—Valeri sends it in curling and it lands in front of Will Johnson. He attempts a scissor kick, but it sails high. Goal kick on its way.
40th—Another chance from nothing, as Alex knocks a hopeful, but still dangerous-that-he-got-it shot that sails into the Army.
42nd—Fernandez crosses one through the box that Valeri gets a solid header on it. Johnson has to jump grab it, so a decent chance there.
43rd—Palmer picks up a yellow away from the ball. Looks like he swung his arm and caught Urruti in the face. Still, Chicago has the ball since it was after the whistle, I suppose.
44th—Valeri with a little chip after a sharp pass from Urruti. Innocuous at best.
Two minutes of stoppage...Timbers with a quick restart on a foul and Fernandez finds Johnson in the box. He spins, but Soumare does well to dispossess the Timbers' captain...Jewsbury fires a low shot that's deflected to the corner. Throw in comes and it's in the box. Urruti attempts two shots, but they're knocked up in the air. Will Johnson cracks one, but it's knocked over the line...corner kick...it sails in and eventually gets to Valeri, who blasts a shot that takes the path of a cross, through the box and over the line.
HALFTIME: Fire lead, 1-0 after a PK goal by Larentowicz set up by Chicago gadfly Amarikwa. Portland has looked less than delightful this afternoon, despite dominating possession so far (62%) and winning well over half the duels. But Chicago has scrapped their way to a lead, which is not a good sign for the home side: According to statophile Mike Donovan, Portland has yet to win an MLS match they've trailed at halftime.
In unrelated news, my legs still hurt and my stomach may be about to, as I visited the omelette bar at halftime.
SECOND HALF: Timbers headed toward their Army...and we're back at it!
47th—Jewsbury sends one into the box and Soumare clears. Foul on Chara and it'll be a free kick for Chicago.
49th—Shipp with a head of steam and fires a cross that Harrington gets a piece of. Ricketts collects and kicks it ahead to Nagbe, who attempts a shot from distance that's almost immediately knocked down.
52nd—Nagbe works his way into the box and dribbles ahead. His shot is deflected off Palmer, but evidently it caught Nagbe and we'll have a Chicago goal kick. More boos from Timbers Army.
54th—After some nice build-up courtesy of Fernandez, Valeri sends a dangerous cross into the box for Will Johnson, but Sean Johnson gets there first. On the other end, Watson cracks one that forces Ricketts to leap and knock it over the bar. Nothing doing on the Chicago corner.
56th—Valeri sounds a great ball into the box for Fernandez, but he can't get a foot on it—and neither can Urruti! Best chance of the afternoon for Portland. Neither forward could get a piece of it, and all they'd have needed was a piece.
57th—Ricketts is down. He went up to grab a cross and might have been undercut. He grabbed it, then booted it out of bounds and fell face-first to the pitch. Not a good sign for the Timbers as Weber gets warm on the sideline.
59th—Ricketts back on his feet, though gingerly. He appears to be in as much pain as I am. OK, nearly as much. Futty comes over to take the goal kick, so obviously Ricketts needs another moment to get himself together.
61st—Amerikwa picks up a yellow after a hard foul on Chara. And we'll have our first sub: Zakuani will enter for Urruti.
64th—Chicago sub: Nyarko on for Joya. Meanwhile, I'm beginning to regret the combination of omelette and orange soda I ingested.
65th—Jewsbury with a great ball into the box for Fernandez, who makes a great run but can't quite collect in the box.
66th—A wild sequence as Valeri feeds Zakuani, who cracks a shot that's knocked down, gets it back and tries again. It's popped in the air and Will Johnson attempts a BICYCLE KICK from about five yards out, but he can't get a solid piece of it. Corner kick cleared, but Portland is knocking on the door here now.
68th—Another sub: Ianni on for Palmer, who went down with an injury in the box. He was all smiles coming off the field, though.
70th—Zakuani gets Ianni 1-on-1 in the final third, but Zakuani's left-footed cross spins across the top of the box and out of danger.
71st—TIMBERS MISS ON AN OPEN NET! Sean Johnson comes off his line and he and a defender miscommunicate and box miss the ball. Will Johnson, likely shocked the ball was suddenly at his feet, shoots on the open net, but the ball trickles wide left by less than a foot. He had to curl it a bit around a Fire defender, and that was enough. Equalizer was a foot away there, tops.
73rd—Nagbe with a head of steam from midfield to the box, and he's taken down about 25 yards out. Dangerous free kick coming and Nyarko picks up a yellow.
74th—Valeri cracks one into a six-man wall and Sean Johnson lets the ball bounce in front of him. Timbers scramble and Will Johnson blasts one, but Johnson is there on the near post. Another crazy sequence, another chance for Portland, but again the Timbers come up empty.
77th—Valeri with a bit of room at the top of the box, and he looks for a cutting Jewsbury streaking in. His pass is a bit tight, though, and cleared by Chicago.
79th—TIMBERS GOAL! Jewsbury with a great move to spin atop of the box and find Valeri running ahead. Valeri knocks it to Nagbe, who cracks a shot that's saved by Sean Johnson, but knocked right to the foot of Fernandez. La Gata simply taps it in and we're tied at 1.
83rd—Amarikwa goes down and Chicago boots it out. Anangono will come on.
84th—Anangono makes an immediate impact with a nice run down the west sideline. Futty does well to knock it over the line, and we'll have a corner.
85th—Another corner as Jewsbury with a nice header. Nothing doing on the corner, and Portland goes on the counter. Nyarko takes down Nagbe and earns his second yellow card, which means he's outta here. PORTLAND UP A MAN FOR THE FINAL FIVE MINUTES.
86th—Piquionne on for Valeri.
87th—Jewsbury with a dangerous volley to the middle, but Fernandez can't get a piece of it. Again, a piece is all he would've needed. Jewsbury having himself a game.
89th—Chicago taking their time and possessing well, despite being down a man.
90th—Ananago nearly nets one on a deflection after a quick restart. Ricketts was dead to rights, but the ball skips wide of the net.
Five minutes of stoppage...Paparatto picks up a yellow card. Chicago with a dangerous free kick, about 25 yards out. Shipp sends it in back post and an unmarked Soumare gets a great header on it, but RICKETTS WITH THE SAVE. He sacrifices his body there and it'll be a corner...Nothing doing for Chicago, but Portland running out of time...Chara with some space and tries to drive one, but it's deflected...Segares goes down in the box and the trainers will come on...Portland will play two men up for few seconds at least, as Segares must come off...Miraculous recovery by Segares and Portland back to one man up...Harrington sends in a ball that falls to Piquionne's feet, but he falls backward and can't get a foot on it....Fernandez called for a foul in the Chicago box.
FULL TIME: It's a 1-1 draw. Timbers dominate the action and equalize in the second half, but can't quite get the touch they need in the final 15 minutes to pick up their first victory of the season. Points are points, sure, but PTFC will surely be disappointed not to get three out of this one.
UPDATE: Yep. Caleb Porter's postgame presser was just a tad testy: