Scuffle with Fire a "team bonding" moment for Seattle
TUKWILA, Wash. – As a veteran of European soccer, Michael Gspurning has seen his fair share of postgame melees. In comparison to some of those, Saturday’s dramatics between the Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire barely even registered.
“You see on the video, I’m standing away from it because, as more people are getting there, the bigger it gets,” Gspurning recalled to reporters after Monday’s training session. “It doesn’t mean that if someone wants to do something with Brad [Evans] that I’m not going to be one of the first to defend him. But he was safe."
“It’s quite calm here," added the goalkeeper, who compared it to situations at his last club, Xanthi of the Greek Super League. "In Greece, maybe every game there was a fight like this. I’m used to these situations.”
That seemed to be the pervasive attitude among the Sounders, who were obviously more than happy to come away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at Toyota Park.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, who also mostly watched from a distance, said he made a point of approaching Fire defender Arne Friedrich and talking to the former German international in his native tongue.
“I think [that] surprised him a little bit,” Schmid said. “In the middle of this melee, I was all calm and asking him how he liked Chicago. He had this bewildered look on his face like, ‘Yeah, it’s nice.’ I figured I would try to take a little air out of the balloon.”
To further help deflate the situation, Schmid elected to call a team meeting on the field.
“I just said, ‘Let’s stay here,’ and we talked a little bit,” Schmid recounted. “We went over to our fans after that and gave [the Fire] a chance to get off the field.”
Even for players who were more intimately involved in the situation, there didn’t appear to be any lingering hard feelings. Evans noted that it could even be a net positive.
“From our end, you love to see guys sticking up for each other,” said Evans, who found himself in the middle of the fracas that seemed to be ignited by a Jalil Anibaba tackle at the final whistle. “There’s nothing like a good little scuffle at the end for some team bonding.
“We got to sing our song in the locker room and I think we felt good. That’s one of our rivals, Chicago is. It gets you fired up a little bit more.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.