MLS gets weird after dark, and that was on show on Wednesday night as the Chicago Fire beat the Portland Timbers 2-1 at Providence Park.
An electric contest to start, Chicago took the lead early, but Portland responded with a tying goal a little later on. It looked like the points were going to be shared, but then Kei Kamara snatched a winning goal with about 10 minutes to go.
That proved to be enough for the Fire, who ultimately secured a potentially important victory on the road.
Chicago opened the scoring with the opening 10 minutes. A lovely ball from Gastón Giménez picked out the run of Brian Gutiérrez, and he cut the ball back into the path of Fabian Herbers. He did the rest, slotting home from close range.
It was nearly 1-1 moments later. Some nice play on the edge of the area set up Evander, who went for a low curling show. The effort seemed destined for the bottom corner, but Chris Brady managed to get a hand out to make an impressive save.
Portland kept pushing forward, and they found an equalizer midway through the half. It was all too easy, as Santiago Moreno cut inside before slipping Frank Boli in-behind, and his quick shot snuck past Brady and rolled into the corner.
Things kept happening, and the Fire had the next chance. A looping ball bounced past the backline, and Jairo Torres got on the end of it, but his volley was well-dealt with by David Bingham.
Torres had another opportunity early on in the second half. He was at a tight angle, and even though his strike was a good one, he was still denied by the goalkeeper.
Just as it seemed like we were set for an uneventful ending, Chicago jumped out in front. Brian Gutiérrez hit a teasing cross towards the backpost, and Kei Kamara did what he does best, leaping above everyone else before heading home from a few yards out.
The Timbers sent numbers forward in search of a late goal, but they failed to do much of anything with the ball, which meant that they were beaten when all was said and done.
Notes and observations
The fact that Portland was able to bring in that sort of crowd for a Wednesday night game was superb to see.
It’s a shame the team couldn’t reward those efforts. The Timbers have been kind of mid for a while now, and with performances like this it certainly seems like nothing’s going to change anytime soon.
In a perfect world Brian Gutiérrez would be with the USMNT right now preparing for the Gold Cup.
This was obviously a big win for Chicago, but they have to make sure they build on it now. They’ve had many victories that led to nothing in years past. If they can keep the momentum going, though, then they might finally make the climb up the standings that fans have been waiting for.
Man of the match – Kei Kamara
Kei Kamara scores goals. It’s just that simple.
The 38-year-old was forced to settle for a cameo off the bench since Chicago has another game this weekend, but that didn’t stop him. He did what he always has done, lingering around in the penalty area before pouncing on the one chance that comes his way. His header was a powerful one, and it was enough to beat the goalkeeper from close range.
Who needs a DP when you have Kamara?