Fire-Timbers Preview

Fire-Timbers Preview

Published Aug. 6, 2015 1:57 p.m. ET

The slumping Portland Timbers could not have asked for a better opponent to visit Providence Park on Friday night.

Portland looks to extend a seven-match home unbeaten streak as it takes on a Chicago Fire squad that hasn't won on the road in over a year.

The Timbers (9-8-6) return to Portland after a scoreless draw in San Jose on Sunday dropped them to 0-2-2 in their last four games.

Portland, which was 6-1-0 in its previous seven matches, has been outscored 8-2 during the winless stretch to fall to fifth place in the Western Conference.


The Timbers, though, were pleased with their defensive play against the Earthquakes after allowing 14 goals in their previous six games.

"We'll take the point. Good defending," coach Caleb Porter said. "We'll build on that and unfortunate not to get the three points. Now we have to go get three points at home versus Chicago."

Portland is 5-0-2 in its last seven at home and 6-1-4 there overall. Chicago has never beaten the Timbers in five meetings, going 0-2-1 in Portland, and the Fire haven't been doing any winning away from home since last summer.

They're 0-12-5 since a 1-0 victory over New England on July 12, 2014, getting outscored 35-14.

Chicago (6-11-4) posted a 2-all draw with the Revolution on July 25 and 2-0 win over FC Dallas on Sunday during a two-game stretch at home. The Fire haven't earned at least one point in three straight since late May.

"They're a lot better than their standing in the league," Porter said. "... We'll respect them, we'll prepare for them, their individuals and their team, but we'll focus mostly on ourselves. Especially because we're at home and we've played very well at home."

The Fire are opening a stretch of three straight road games in 10 days, including a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match against Philadelphia on Wednesday.

"Three points Friday, a final to get to Wednesday and another three points on Sunday. That's what we're looking at," coach Frank Yallop told the club's official website.

"We're just trying to do that. That's the only focus we have is getting points in those two league games and trying to get to a final in another game. Not an easy week, but it could be a good week if it all works out."

Chicago will be without forward Mike Magee (knee) and defender Lovel Palmer (knee) is questionable, while midfielder Matt Watson is suspended for the next two games for committing a serious foul against Dallas.

The Fire, though, could see the debut of forward Gilberto after he was claimed off waivers as a designated player July 27. Gilberto had seven goals and five assists in 28 games for Toronto FC last season before appearing in 10 matches for Brazilian club Vasco da Gama this year.

"Gilberto is in the prime of his career and can immediately help our club push toward the MLS Cup playoffs this year and for years to come," Yallop said. "... He's shown he can score goals in this league."


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