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Fire faces stiff test against one-loss Timbers

Updated: July 9, 2013 6:18AM

The Fire is in no position to criticize any victory as it fights to stay close to teams in the playoff picture. But while the players were happy to earn three points in a 2-0 victory against D.C. United on Sunday, they know they have to play better.

The Fire (3-7-2) had the ball only 37.1 percent of the time. The team must be much more judicious with its passing against the Portland Timbers (5-1-7) on Saturday at Toyota Park.

“The most important thing is patience because we string a couple and want to hit the home run,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said.

“Portland [has a] great away record. It’s a huge test for us, but it’s a confidence-builder. We have confidence that we can go out there and win games.”

Fire coach Frank Klopas said possession statistics aren’t an indicator of how his team is playing. Last season, the Fire made the playoffs despite often yielding possession.

That’s because the Fire’s strength, even during this disappointing season, has been its ability to mark players downfield. The Fire has forced opponents to pass between members of its back line, which doesn’t pose a scoring threat.

That was the case for much of the game against United as the Fire defended a 2-0 lead and didn’t apply pressure upfield.

Klopas is more apt to watch video to discern where his team can be better keeping the ball.

“You always have to look where the other team has possession,” Klopas said. “If you’re knocking the ball with the back four in their half of the field, that’s not an issue. If you’re constantly defending your own half, that’s areas that you’re concerned with.”

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