Bridgeview, IL – The Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers could deploy somewhat unfamiliar lineups when the two sides meet at Toyota Park on Saturday.
After a slow start to the season, Chicago has made some moves in acquiring defender Bakary Soumare from the Philadelphia Union and Mike Magee from the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The two newcomers helped repay the club's faith by guiding the Fire to a 2-0 home victory over D.C. United last time out.
Soumare has enjoyed the change of scenery and was pleased to start his tenure with the Fire on the right foot.
"It feels great," the defender said of the United defeat. "It feels fantastic being here, obviously I love playing here. This is home to me, so it's great to be a part of this organization, and to start with a win and a clean sheet couldn't have been scripted any better."
Magee also played a key role in Chicago's defeat of United, scoring the second goal of the contest to put the result beyond any doubt.
"I mean what can you say, I think that you saw the quality that he has, his leadership that he brings on the field, but he's just very smart," Fire head coach Frank Klopas said of Magee. "The way he moves on the field, he wants the ball in difficult spots and he always seems to be in the right moment, at the right time.
"I think, look, he's a quality player that's going to make our team, obviously, better. You saw a little bit (Sunday) and I don't know if you watched the Open Cup match but I know that as he gets a little bit more familiarized with the group of players that we have, I think it's even going to be better. So, yeah, he's got a lot of quality and we are lucky to have him in our group, on our team."
Portland, meanwhile, brings an 11-match unbeaten run to Bridgeview. Unlike the Fire, the Timbers have not had cause to dip into the transfer market, but Caleb Porter's side still may look a bit unconventional on Saturday due to the international break.
Defenders Futty Danso, Pa Modou Kah, Rauwshan McKenzie and Dylan Tucker- Gangnes all have been called into their respective national teams, leaving Portland to rely on their depth to preserve their unbeaten run.
"The great thing is we've been plugging guys in and we've still been doing well and that's been important," Timbers defender Michael Harrington told the club's official website of the squad rotation this season. "The great thing about our team is we're a team, and everybody understands their role."
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and strikers Ryan Johnson and Rodney Wallace will miss the trip to Chicago through international duty, but Porter revealed that the club's depth was constructed to compensate for such shortcomings.
"We're always trying to make sure we're ready and that we've got bullets in the barrel because in this business you never know what's going to happen," Porter said. "We have players pretty much ready at every position in case something happens."
The Timbers come into the match as the only team left in MLS that has not lost on the road this season.