BY ANTHONY ZILIS
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The Fire outshot them, hit two posts, and had the ball in their attacking third for much of the game.
But for the Portland Timbers, who beat Chicago 1-0 Saturday at Toyota Park, it felt great just to get a road win.
While it wasn’t necessarily pretty, Jack Jewsbury was upbeat after the Timbers’ first road victory in eight tries snapped their seven-game unbeaten streak.
“The feeling’s great in this locker room tonight,” Jewsbury said, with hip hop music blaring in the background.
“It’s something we’ve had on our minds for awhile. That’s what we’ve been looking for all year and it’s good to get that monkey off of our back.”
Jewbury scored his career-best fifth goal of the season on a 25th-minute penalty kick after Gonzalo Segares took down Jorge Perlaza just inside the penalty area.
“It’s been a great time since I’ve come here to Portland,” said Jewsbury, who scored only 13 goals in eight years before he was acquired by the Timbers in the offseason.
“They’ve given me more freedom than I’ve had in the past in terms of going forward and taking set pieces whether that’s out of the run of play or on penalties or whatever.”
The scene in the Fire locker room was the polar opposite of Portland’s. Patrick Nyarko sat for five minutes with his head in his hands after the Fire failed to come up with three points for the 17th time in their last 18 league games.
“This was a very winnable game,” Nyarko said.
“We thought it was a questionable call on the PK … We had a couple of unlucky bounces.”
Early on, Dominic Oduro had two chances to set up a teammate in the box with a well-placed cross, but both fell harmlessly to a defender. Cory Gibbs and Orr Barrouch each chances to level the score, but their shots bounced off the post in the 44th and 70th minute.
The Fire were cut to ten men in the 65th minute when Yamith Cuesta drew his second yellow card. Still, Marco Pappa twice challenged Troy Perkins from outside the box in the waning minutes, but the Timbers goalkeeper sprawled for one and kick-saved the other.
Though visibly frustrated, Fire coach Frank Klopas had little to say about the two crippling calls, both controversial.
“The referee was there, he makes the call. Am I happy with it? No,” Klopas said.
“I felt the guys put a lot into the game. I think we had to have a better start and sometimes we have to have things happen to us in order to have that urgency.”
The Fire hope they can right themselves as they prime for a second-half run, now five points out of a playoff spot.
The Timbers, on the other hand, pulled to within two points of a playoff berth with the win.
“There are going to be times in the season when you hit that little bit of a lull. We hit that for a month and it was just trying to get out of it as fast as we could,” Jewsbury said.
“I think halfway through, the first seventeen games, we felt like we were still in the mix. We felt like we weren’t too far our but we needed to right the ship pretty quick. We did that here tonight, and hopefully we’ll continue to keep the streak going for a little while.”