Red-hot Fire try to break hex versus Timbers (Jul 05, 2017)

BY AP • July 5, 2017

Major League Soccer's winningest team heads west Wednesday to face a Portland Timbers squad it has never beaten.

The Chicago Fire (11-3-4) meet the Timbers (7-7-5) in a midweek clash before the league takes a break for CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament play.

The Fire are 0-4-3 all-time in regular season play against Portland, including a 0-3-1 record on the Timbers' home field.

Chicago is unbeaten in its past 10 league matches (8-0-2) and is 5-0-1 against Western Conference foes this season.

The Fire are coming off a 4-0 victory over visiting Vancouver on Saturday, when forward Nemanja Nikolic collected two goals and an assist.

He earned MLS Player of the Week honors for the efforts, the second straight week a Fire player won the weekly award following David Accam's selection.

Chicago was missing Accam and Dax McCarty on Saturday because of international call-ups. The pair also are expected to be out for the Wednesday game.

"Missing a couple players, but we knew that it was going to be a good game for us (against Vancouver), especially in front of our fans," Fire midfielder Juninho said. "I think our team did a good job managing the game and keeping scoring the goals. That's very important for us. We're first in the table, we have to keep it up."

Chicago forward Bastian Schweinsteiger is uncertain for Wednesday after leaving the Saturday game with an apparent hip injury.

"We still have to see how it goes," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We had to pull him out of the game because he felt a little bit of sharp soreness. So he was actually smart, and when the result was 3-0, he asked for the substitution."

Portland is winless in its past four matches but is coming off a 1-1 tie at Kansas City on Saturday. Midfielder Diego Valeri scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season.

"We did much better in the back defensively in the last game," Timbers defender Roy Miller said. "Chicago is doing really good this year. ... They play simple pass, play quickly, so we have to make sure in the back to concentrate, focus because they've scored a lot of goals."

Following the Wednesday game, the Timbers will be off until July 19, when they host Real Salt Lake. The trip to Portland is the first of three straight road trips for Chicago, which resumes play on July 22 at New York City FC.


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