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Fire, Timbers share points in four-goal draw

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Both the Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers came into Saturday’s showdown looking to taste victory for the first time this season.

Neither side reached that goal, but it was the home side who will feel the better of the two after pegging Portland back twice in a 2-2 draw at Toyota Park.

An 84th-minute equalizer from Brandon Vincent gave Velkjo Paunovic’s side a late point after coming from behind for a second time on Saturday.

Diego Valeri slotted home the opening goal in the sixth-minute, finishing Sebastian Blanco’s assist into the bottom-left corner. It was the Argentine’s first goal of the season after bagging 21 a year ago.

Fire keeper Richard Sanchez kept the deficit at only one, saving Blanco’s left-footed out in the 35th-minute. Elliot Collier had the only effort towards goal in the first-half for Chicago, but just missed the top-left corner.

It only took the Fire five minutes into the second half to get back into the match, and it came via their star striker. Nemanja Nikolic pounced on Vincent’s cross and leveled the score at 1-1 from close range range. The Hungarian now has three goals in three matches this season.

After setting up Portland’s first goal, Blanco recaptured the lead for the Timbers after 55 minutes. The Argentine headed Andres Flores cross past Sanchez for his third goal of the season.

The Fire pressured on numerous occasions throughout the half though to try and get level for a second time. Dax McCarty and Nikolic missed chances but their hard work finally paid off. Vincent headed Bastian Schweinsteiger’s cross into the top-left corner for his first goal of the season, and his first since Sept. 2017.

Jake Gleeson preserved a point for the Timbers after saving Alan Gordon’s header ahead of stoppage time.

At the final whistle, both teams had to settle for a point apiece as they winless runs continued. Both Gleeson and Sanchez finished the match with one save each.

The Fire (0-2-1) continue their homestand on April 7th as they welcome the Columbus Crew to town. The Timbers (0-2-2) conclude a five-match road trip to start the season on April 8th against Orlando City.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Brandon Vincent was the man of the match, scoring a goal and adding an assist in the 2-2 draw. He was also one of Chicago’s better defenders on Saturday winning six of nine duels.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Alan Gordon easily could have won the match for Chicago if it wasn’t for the heroics of Gleeson. The substitute forward got his head to the ball but the 27-year-old keeper stood strong and saved his team a point.

MATCH TO FORGET

27-year-old Fanendo Adi has always found a knack for scoring goals but that certainly didn’t happen on Saturday. Adi played the full 90 but failed to record a shot on goal and had a mere 17 completed passes.

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