Seattle Sounders FC vs Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC vs CHICAGO FIRE
CENTURYLINK FIELD, Seattle, Wash.
Sept. 7, 2013 (WEEK 28, MLS Game #255)
7 pm PT (NBC SN)

Seattle Sounders FC continue their homestand when they entertain the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at CenturyLink Field in front of an NBC Sports Network audience. Sounders FC made it three consecutive 1-0 victories at midweek with a defeat of Chivas USA, pulling them into a tie for second place in the Western Conference. The Fire come into the match two points out of fifth place and the final postseason position in the Eastern Conference, after their 1-1 home draw with the Houston Dynamo a week ago.

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REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. AR1 (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; AR2 (opposite): Mike Rottersman; 4th: Edvin Jurisevic
MLS Career: 93 games; FC/gm: 24.1; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 15; pens: 13

DISABLED LIST: SEA: Josh Ford, Steve Zakuani
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SEA: Djimi Traore
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SEA: Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado … CHI: Daniel Paladini, Bakary Soumare, Jeff Larentowicz, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares, Chris Rolfe
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: SEA: Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson (USA) … CHI: Joel Lindpere (Estonia), Arevalo Rios (Uruguay)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (7 meetings): Sounders FC 4 wins, 8 goals … Fire 0 wins, 4 goals … Ties 3
AT SEATTLE (5 meetings): Sounders FC 2 wins, 4 goals … Fire 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS)
4/28: CHI 1, SEA 2 (Pappa 89 – own goal 39; Johnson 67)

Highlights: USOC final 2011

• The teams are meeting for the only time this season in league play.

• Sounders FC have never lost to the Fire in seven meetings all-time in league play. Seattle has won four, including a 2-1 win last April 28 at Toyota Park in the only meeting of 2012; the teams have played to three draws.

• Sounders FC also won the 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final between the clubs.

• Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. CHI: P32 W15 L8 D9 … Frank Klopas v SEA: P2 W0 L1 D1

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Seattle Sounders FC made it three consecutive victories, all by a 1-0 scoreline, with a victory against Chivas USA on Wednesday evening at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC are in a tie for second place in the Western Conference with 43 points from 25 matches.

LAST MATCH

• The game's lone goal came in the 24th minute, and again it came from a set piece. Marc Burch served in a beautiful curling free kick that found Lamar Neagle all alone in the 6-yard box, and he brought it down off his thigh before smashing a leaping side volley past Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.

Highlights: SEA 1, CHV 0

• Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was called upon to make just one save in recording a third consecutive shutout.

• Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made five changes to the team that defeated the Columbus Crew 1-0 at Crew Stadium. Djimi Traore and Patrick Ianni came into the back line, and Servando Carrasco, Marc Burch and David Estrada all came into the team, in place of Brad Evans, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, the suspended Leo Gonzalez and national teamers Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey.

• SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Michael Gspurning - DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott - Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 82), Servando Carrasco, Osvaldo Alonso, Marc Burch (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 91+) - Lamar Neagle, David Estrada (Eriq Zavaleta 84).

LAST MATCH

• Sounders FC extended their club-record home unbeaten streak to 11 games (8-0-3). It is the second-longest home unbeaten streak in MLS this season (San Jose, 12 games).

• “You always need some results like that,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “You need to win games, you need to control games, you need to dominate games, then there’s the hard games in there where you got to just figure out a win to win it. The last two games have been difficult games for us, playing a man down and today with all of the people missing, we had to figure out a way to win games and we did that.”

• For the third consecutive match, the lone Sounders FC goal for the 1-0 win came via a free kick. The last four goals Seattle has scored have all come on free kicks; Sounders FC have scored six goals from deadball situations this season.

• “We also felt we've been very good on free kicks and set pieces lately. Mauro (Rosales) has been serving a good ball; (Marc) Burch was serving a good ball at practice. We said that was something we wanted to take advantage of and we did again,” said Schmid.

• Sounders FC extended their shutout streak to 286 minutes, the seventh-longest in MLS this season, all with Michael Gspurning between the posts. It’s also the seventh-longest shutout in the club’s MLS history.

• “We made a commitment after the Houston game that we got to play better defense, and we haven't given up a goal since then. At the end of the day that's something very important,” said Schmid. “To win an MLS Cup, we got to be solid in the back. I think there's a Galaxy team that won the Supporters' Shield, I think they won eight or nine games that season 1-0. So winning 1-0 is not the worst.”

• In the starting lineup for a 10th consecutive game, Lamar Neagle scored his sixth goal of the year, his first since July 28.

• “I think just confidence-wise, I want to be the guy that steps up and scores a goal in every single game. Whether Clint [Dempsey] and Eddie [Johnson] are out there, or Oba [Martins] is out there, I still want to score goals,” Neagle said. “It doesn't really matter who's out there, I want to obviously be one scoring goals. It's the same thing when they're not there.”

• With Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson on national team duty, and after Obafemi Martins failed a pregame fitness test, David Estrada made his third start of the season, his first since March 23. It was his first MLS appearance since a 2-1 home win against Chivas USA on July 28.

• After starting against Columbus in central defense, Zach Scott started at left back for the first time this season. He had made eight starts at center back and four starts at right back this season.

• “David Estrada hasn't played in a long time and I thought he stepped up with a really good effort. His first 60 minutes and just his activity was really good. (Marc) Burch is a guy who has played a lot of left midfield for us because we've been short on people there, and he stepped up and played well. We needed Zach (Scott) to go to outside back because we tried to keep a little more veterans on the field and he came on and did well. You always want to have a team that has good depth,” said Schmid.

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire saw their three-game home winning streak come to an end but still came away with a result, getting a late 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Sunday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 35 points from 25 matches.

LAST MATCH

• The Fire were handed the lead in the 37th minute when Mike Magee sent a service that found its way past Jeff Larentowicz and deflected off Houston center back Bobby Boswell's head past goalkeeper Tally Hall.

• But the Dynamo were able to level terms as the clock turned over to 90 minutes. Adam Moffat took a clever backheel from Corey Ashe on the left side of the area and ripped a laser into the far upper corner for the equalizer.

Highlights: CHI 1, HOU 1

• Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that defeated Sporting Kansas City 1-0 at Toyota Park. Bakary Soumare returned from suspension in place of Hunter Jumper.

• CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Bakary Soumare, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Alex (Joel Lindpere 84), Jeff Larentowicz, Arevalo Rios, Dilly Duka (Patrick Nyarko 64) - Chris Rolfe (Juan Luis Anangono 70), Mike Magee.

TEAM NEWS

• While the Fire saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, they have still lost just once overall in their last seven matches.

• “It’s a shame we didn’t put the game away. It’s tough the way you lose in the last minute, but that’s how it is sometimes. It’s disappointing,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “We have to make sure we play all the way to the end. Obviously, this hurts right now dropping these two points at home. We have a tough stretch of three games coming up so all of the points really count. So we have to find a way to pick them up somewhere else.”

• Chris Rolfe returned to the lineup for a second consecutive match, partnering Mike Magee in attack.

• “You look at me and Mike, and we had plenty of chances today to put the game away in the first half,” Rolfe said. “It's a game of inches, and it hasn't been going our way. I think a lot of it comes to us in the attack. The defense played well today, they stopped a lot of dangerous attacks, and they just kind of got worn down.”

• Arevalo Rios started his third consecutive game in the center of the midfield, again playing 90 minutes.

• It was a fourth consecutive game without a goal for Mike Magee, his longest stretch without scoring since coming to the Fire from the LA Galaxy, though he still added his third assist. Magee is still tied for second in the MLS Golden Boot standings with Camilo Sanvezzo of Vancouver, one behind Montréal’s Marco Di Vaio.

• “I think the entire game was pretty fitting,” Magee said. “I feel like in games like that, when you get a bunch of chances and you don't finish, the soccer gods have a way of punishing you. Obviously we can't concede the way we did. But when you miss the chances that we had, it has a way of sorting itself out where you don't deserve the win.”