The Chicago Fire are enduring a busy stretch of games and are missing key players, but they won’t get any sympathy from the Portland Timbers.
The Fire are without Dax McCarty, who is with the U.S. national team for the Gold Cup, David Accam is returning from international duty and Bastian Schweinsteiger is listed as questionable after leaving in the first half of Saturday’s 4-0 win against Vancouver. While all three are keys starters for the Fire, that list is significantly shorter than the players the Timbers will be missing.
The Timbers won’t be able to field a full 18-man matchday roster due to injuries and players away for the Gold Cup. Regular starters Diego Chara and Liam Ridgewell and depth players Jack Barmby and Amobi Okugo are out with injuries. Starting right back Alvas Powell and frequent attacking substitute Darren Mattocks are with Jamaica and starting central midfielder David Guzman is with Costa Rica for the Gold Cup.
The Fire will try to take advantage of Portland's lack of depth when they travel to Providence Park Wednesday night. The game will be live on CSN with an hour and a half of Fire coverage leading into the match. First up is a new episode of Chicago Fire Weekly at 8 p.m. and then Fire Pregame Live is on at 9 p.m.
It will be the Fire’s fourth game in 12 days and will cap off a busy stretch of seven games in 26 days for the host Timbers. Portland is winless in five straight, including a loss to Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup, but is 5-1-3 at home this season.
“Portland is going to be a great test for us and we have to keep the mentality that we have now and play the way we were playing so far,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said.
Portland’s depth is razor thin, but the Timbers will be able to send out almost all of the starting lineup that earned a quality road draw at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
The Fire took over the best record in MLS on Saturday, but have a tough stretch of games coming up to hold onto that spot. After Wednesday, the Fire will go on break for the Gold Cup group stage, but will return July 22 with a game at New York City FC and a trip to Sporting KC the next week.
“We just have to keep playing the way we’re playing with confidence,” midfielder Arturo Alvarez said. “It’s a lot of games left, but we got to keep doing the same thing.”
Chicago Fire at Portland Timbers
Where: Providence Park, Portland, Ore.
TV: CSN Chicago
When: Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live (a new episode of Chicago Fire Weekly starts at 8 p.m.)
Records: Fire (11-3-4, 37 points), Timbers (7-7-5, 26 points)