Monday, August 30, 2010

SOUNDERS FC: Seattle extinquishes Fire 2-1

Written by Galen Helmgren

Saturday’s match is a game that will haunt Freddie Ljungberg. In his first game at Qwest Field since being dealt to the Chicago Fire, the Swede’s new team was only two minutes from snatching a point on the road against Seattle. A last minute header by Fredy Montero bounced past Chicago’s rookie goalkeeper, spoiling Ljungberg’s return while posting a 2-1 victory for the Rave Green.

Montero scored both Seattle goals and has been the engine driving the Sounders’ mid-season revival. The Fire drew first blood when Jeff Parke was called for a dubious handball in Seattle’s goal box, allowing Chicago’s John Thorrington to put the visiting side up 1-0 28 minutes into the match. Thorrington’s penalty was the first goal allowed by Seattle in MLS play since July 25, snapping the club's record 379 minute opponent scoreless streak.

After the Fire (6-7-6, 24 points) converted the penalty it was obvious that the Sounders (9-8-5, 32 points) were frustrated. The game had become too physical, in typical MLS fashion, and fans watched both Montero (24’) and Blaise Nkufo (43’) earn yellow cards before halftime.

In the 36th minute Seattle struck back when Tyson Wahl lofted a cross from the far sideline that found Montero in Chicago’s goal box. With two defenders bearing down on him, the 23-year-old Colombian gathered the ball, sidestepped a defender and rolled a shot to the far post, past Chicago keeper Sean Johnson.

The second half was less violent and the Sounders took advantage, racking up nine of their 19 shots in the second half. As the final minutes ticked off the clock, it looked like Chicago might escape Qwest with a valuable point, but two minutes into the four minute stoppage time Montero struck again.

James Riley took a quick throw-in to Nate Sturgis who’s left-footed cross found Montero at the far post. The resulting header put Seattle up 2-1 and marked Montero’s 10th goal in MLS play this year, his 11th in all competitions.

Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid expressed doubt about the handball penalty, but was happy with his team’s result.

"It is pretty exciting. You do all the hard work and when you win one like that and you score late like you do, it's such an outstanding feeling. That's something that sometimes becomes defining moments for teams in a season. Hopefully this will help us in becoming a defining moment for us."

The win not only vaults the Sounders into fourth place in the Western Conference and extends their unbeaten streak to seven games, but it puts them over .500 for the first time since April 25.Seattle also improved their chances of making the playoffs for the second consecutive year. The top eight teams in the league earn spots in the playoffs and the three points earned on Saturday push the Sounders from seventh place up to sixth in the playoff hunt.

Seattle’s next match is on Wednesday, September 1 at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila where the Sounders will host Chivas USA in the with a U.S. Open Cup semifinals. First kick is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT. Three days later, Seattle travels to New England to play the Revolution on September 4 at 4:30 p.m. PT.

Unofficial Box Score:

Chicago Fire (6-7-6) vs. Seattle Sounders FC (9-8-5)
August 28, 2010 -- Qwest Field

Scoring Summary:

CHI -- John Thorrington 1 (penalty kick) 28
SEA -- Fredy Montero 9 (Tyson Wahl 1, Patrick Ianni 1) 36
SEA -- Fredy Montero 10 (Nathan Sturgis 1, James Riley 3) 92+

Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Steven Kinney, C.J. Brown, Gonzalo Segares, Krzysztof Krol, Patrick Nyarko (Calen Carr 86), Logan Pause, John Thorrington, Baggio Husidic, Collins John, Freddie Ljungberg.

Substitutes Not Used: Mike Banner, Brian McBride, Marco Pappa, Deris Umanzor, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Andrew Dykstra.

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Freddie Ljungberg 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 tied with 1); FOULS: 18 (Gonzalo Segares 5); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Freddie Ljungberg 3); SAVES: 2 (Sean Johnson 2)

Seattle Sounders FC -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Tyson Wahl, Sanna Nyassi (Steve Zakuani 62), Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque 89), Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo (Nate Jaqua 82).

Substitutes Not Used: Tyrone Marshall, Zach Scott, Mike Seamon, Terry Boss.

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Fredy Montero 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Fredy Montero 4); FOULS: 13 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Blaise Nkufo 1, Steve Zakuani 1); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Nathan Sturgis 6); SAVES: 3 (Kasey Keller 3)

Misconduct Summary:
CHI -- Steven Kinney (caution; Reckless Tackle) 22
SEA -- Fredy Montero (caution; Reckless Foul) 24
SEA -- Blaise Nkufo (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 43
CHI -- Freddie Ljungberg (caution; Reckless Foul) 83
SEA -- Nate Jaqua (caution; Reckless Foul) 90

Referee: Ramon Hernandez
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Paul Scott
4th Official: Landis Wiley
Attendance: 36,386
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Clear-and-65-degrees

Reach Galen Helmgren at