Chicago Fire Soccer Club Earns Hard-Fought 1-1 Road Draw Against Portland Timbers

PORTLAND (Sunday, March 16, 2014) – The Chicago Fire (0-1-1, 1 point) battled the Portland Timbers (0-0-2, 2 points) to a 1-1 draw at Providence Park in Portland, Ore., on Sunday afternoon. Quincy Amarikwa earned a penalty kick for the Fire that Jeff Larentowicz converted in the 19th minute before Gaston Fernandez equalized for the Timbers in the 79th minute as the two sides split the points.
The Fire head now head home to host 2013 MLS Supporters’ Shield winners New York Red Bulls for Opening Day at Toyota Park, presented by Giordano’s Chicago Pizza, on Sunday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. CT. Single game tickets to the Fire’s 17 MLS Regular Season home matches and to the July 26 international friendly against Barclay’s Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur FC are now available via Ticketmaster and

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Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
Overall thoughts on the match
“Well, good to get a point, our first point this season. I thought we played very well in the first half; could have maybe been two-up, but that’s soccer. You’ve got to take your chances, but, in the end, with what happened in the match, getting the red card and being under a lot of pressure at the end, I think we did well to hold onto the point. Had a couple chances real late to maybe win it, so all-in-all happy with the performance of the team and, obviously, not overly pleased we didn’t get three points, but it’s a start for us. We’re building for the future.”
On the four line-ups changes from last week’s match against Chivas USA:
“Just wanted to freshen it up. I thought it wasn’t good enough last week when we played at Chivas USA. I thought we performed very well today. Harry Shipp had his first game, was great. Benji Joya had a start as well. Matt Watson, who I picked up from Vancouver, had a tremendous game today. I had Quincy Amarikwa up top and I thought Quincy was a real handful all game. He’s doing well, he works hard at his game, and those guys did really well today and I was happy.”
On the team’s performance:
“The response today was excellent. I thought our character was strong, we didn’t buckle, we kept going. That’s the sign of a good team, so hopefully that’s the sign for us moving forward. We don’t really have any natural wingers and I think Portland’s strength is down the middle. Once they get themselves dipped inside they’re very good in those underneath positions, underneath the back four and [Darlington] Nagbe coming off the line and stuff like that. So tactically we plugged the middle and I think we did a great job of that. Nicking balls and then broke on them a few times. Maybe could have punished them a bit better in the first half, but still our game plan worked. I thought we nullified a lot of the play, especially the first 60 minutes. Again, it was a good performance by us and I’m proud of the guys and proud of the way they handled themselves today.”
Thoughts on the red card for Nyarko:
“To be honest, I’d have to look at it again. But you have to make sure that’s worthy of a second yellow. I thought the first one, Nagbe had already played it, why didn’t he just play on or give a foul and not a yellow? The second one, it was right in front us. Patrick [Nyarko] was on the other side, so I couldn’t really see, but again it’s got to be worthy of the foul. I can’t really comment until I see it.”
Fire midfielder Matt Watson
On his first start in his first game with the Fire:
“It’s obviously good to get into the team. Obviously, I’ve got a lot to learn about how [Chicago] play and things like that. All the guys have been really welcoming since I’ve been here. We’ve come to Portland and to get a hard-fought point is good, but it’s disappointing we couldn’t get three.”
On Chicago’s performance
“I think we just need to clean up on small things. You can see the fight is there, things like that. All the basic fundamental things are there, but we need to just maybe relax a little bit on the ball; just play. If we can just take a step back, relax, play, we’ll be great this year. We’ve got some great guys. [Quincy] Amarikwa was fighting for every ball. When you see that, it just inspires you to play and get behind him and push up, things like that. If we clean up on the small things we’ll be great.”
Fire midfielder Harry Shipp
On making his debut
“It was obviously exciting, especially playing here for 90 minutes in front of a great crowd. It’s definitely something I’ve been working towards my entire life and to finally make the debut is special. I wish, obviously, we would have gotten the three points. Thought we had it at the end in stoppage time, but overall not too bad of a way to start.”
On Chicago’s tactical approach to Portland
“We had a lot of changes from the lineup last week, so I think our first and foremost responsibility was getting those good spots defensively. I think Lovel [Palmer] on the right, Gonzalo [Segares] on the left really did a good job talking to the outside mids in terms of cutting off those interior passes because obviously that’s what Portland likes to do first is find those guys in the seams. So I think, kind of forcing them wide, we were able to do that and kept them from being extremely dangerous.”
On Chicago’s performance:
“Quincy did a great job drawing the penalty kick first. I think we came out confident. We didn’t want to be shy. We felt like we didn’t come out with as much energy as we would have liked to last week, so we really wanted to change that this week. Then giving up the goal wasn’t what we wanted, but I think we responded pretty well. We had a couple good chances after we gave up that goal to actually steal the game and win 2-1. So overall I think we responded pretty well to giving up the goal.”
-       With the draw, the Fire move to 0-3-2 all-time in matches played against the Timbers. This is the first time the Fire have earned a point in Portland, after previously going 0-2-0 in away matches.
-       Patrick Ianni, Harry Shipp and Matt Watson made their Fire debuts this afternoon. Shipp and Watson started and played the full 90 minutes while Ianni entered the match in the 67th minute.
-       With the start, Shipp becomes the first Homegrown Player in Fire history to appear in a MLS match for the club.
-       Quincy Amarikwa, who drew the penalty kick, earned his first start for the Fire. Amarikwa previously appeared in 15 appearances as a substitute, and has scored four goals in 232 minutes.
-       Midfielder Patrick Nyarko will miss the Fire’s home opener against the New York Red Bulls on March 23 due to the requisite one-game suspension for the red card that he was shown in the 86th minute of today’s match. This is Nyarko’s first career red card in seven MLS seasons.
Chicago Fire 1 – 1 Portland Timbers
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Lovel Palmer (Patrick Ianni 67’), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares; Jeff Larentowicz ©, Harry Shipp, Alex, Matt Watson, Benji Joya (Patrick Nyarko 64’); Quincy Amarikwa (Juan Luis Anangono 83’)
Substitutes not used: Kyle Reynish, Logan Pause, Greg Cochrane, Victor Pineda
Portland Timbers: Donovan Ricketts, Mamadou Danso, Jack Jewsbury, Norberto Paparatto, Michael Harrington, Diego Chara, Diego Valeri (Frederic Piquionne) 86’, Will Johnson, Gaston Fernandez, Darlington Nagbe, Maximiliano Urruti (Steve Zakuani 61’)
Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber, Alvas Powell, Ben Zemanski, Rauwshan McKenzie, Michael Nanchoff
Scoring Summary
CHI – Jeff Larentowicz (penalty kick) 19’
POR – Gaston Fernandez (unassisted) 79’
Misconduct Summary
CHI – Bakary Soumare (caution) 25’
CHI – Lovel Palmer (caution) 43’
CHI – Quincy Amarikwa (caution) 61’
CHI – Patrick Nyarko (caution) 73’
CHI – Patrick Nyarko (caution, ejection) 86’
POR – Norberto Paparatto (caution) 91’
Referee: Marcos de Oliveira
Assistants: Israel Fernandez, Brandon Major
Fourth Official: Bernard Hosu
Attendance: 20,814