By Money Mike
After scoring just one goal in the last three matches, the Sounders found their goalscoring shoes Saturday night as they came away with a 2-1 road win over the Chicago Fire. The Sounders with the win are 4-1-1 on the year and are now preparing for a long month of may where they have to play nine matches in all competitions. The Fire are now winless in seven games against the Sounders and have conceded five goals in their last three matches since newcomer Arne Friedrich was inserted into the starting 11 after an injury to Cory Gibbs and are winless in three games against winning teams this season.
Chicago had control and looked good the first 10-15 minutes of the game keeping possession, testing the goalkeeper, set pieces, etc. In the third minute, Gonzalo Segares found Dominic Oduro unmarked in the six yard area but Oduro couldn't direct his header on frame. 10 minutes later, Patrick Nyarko sent Oduro away but Jeff Parke did very well to get back and force Oduro out wide and in the end, no real challenge for goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. A minute later, Chicago continued to press and nearly made Seattle pay. Pavel Pardo found Patrick Nyarko out wide, Nyarko then stepped past Leo Gonzalez and sent in a low cross which rolled all the way to Daniel Paladini for an open look at goal but Ozzie Alonso, who has got to be the best holding midfielder in MLS, got his body in the way and denied Paladini a chance to break the deadlock.
The Sounders chance didn't come until the 20th minute off the match. Mauro Rosales, who missed four games due to a knee injury, drew a free kick from the near side of the pitch and it was the Captain who took the free kick and found Jeff Parke for the header, but it sailed wide to the left of Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson. In the 27th minute, Fredy Montero came just a whisker of breaking his scoring draught. Leo Gonzalez's long throw in to the box came off the chest of Eddie Johnson back to Gonzalez. Leo had time to settle and whip in a good cross toward the near post and found Fredy Montero who directed his header towards goal and had Sean Johnson beat, but it was just a fraction too high. A few minutes later, Montero tested Johnson from distance and the wind made it difficult for the third year goalkeeper, but he got his fist to it.
In the 38th minute, the Sounders opened the scoring and Arne Friedrich's struggles defensively continue. Ozzie Alonso sent Eddie Johnson behind the fire defense, but he was forced out wide so he waited for help and got support from David Estrada. After receiving the ball from Johnson, Estrada made a cut inside the penalty area and it looked like tried to force one towards goal. It was a weak shot, but it deflected off Arne Friedrich and rolled inside the near post. They originally scored it as an Own goal on Friedrich, but at halftime they changed the ruling and credited the goal to David Estrada which gave him five goals this season in MLS play. However, after the game they decided to change it back to an Arne Friedrich own goal. So David Estrada still has four goals.
In the second half, things went pretty quiet for both clubs until the 60th minute. Eddie Johnson struggled a bit to maintain possession of the ball but he was able to play it out wide to Marc Burch who whipped in a good cross to the six yard area for Montero who miss timed his jump. The ball however found Eddie Johnson for the header, but the post saved Chicago there. Seattle came so close to doubling their lead. Three minutes later Chicago thought they had an equalizer. Sebastian Grazzini floated the ball into the area and was headed by a Seattle player. The ball fell to Marco Pappa who ripped it trough, however Dominic Oduro was in an offside position with his back against the goalkeeper and the goal was waved off.
With over 25 minutes to play, the Sounders doubled their lead. Fredy Montero took the free kick from about 30 yards away and just missed Eddie Johnson, however goalkeeper Sean Johnson spilled it and Eddie Johnson tapped the ball into an empty net for his first Sounders goal and made it 2-0 Sounders. It's been a tough last couple of years for Johnson, but it's better to get that first goal out of the way and surely that goal will boost his confidence.
In the 89th minute, Chicago pulled one back. Marco Pappa's corner went straight in to the back of the net as the wind became a factor in this one. The Fire had the wind at their backs in the second half and Michael Gspurning had a tough time especially with this one as it dipped over him and in off the far post. However, Seattle did manage to hold on and get the three points.
- David Estrada got the start at left midfield and I thought he did pretty well out there at times and other times, I wasn't sure he felt comfortable in that position. He got the start out there mainly because Mauro Rosales made his return and Alvaro Fernandez wasn't fit to go for this match. I've been impressed with his form so far in this young season. After only making 6 appearances in his first two seasons with Seattle, he's worked a lot on improving his game during the offseason and head coach Sigi Schmid said that he came into the season with the best form than anybody else on this team and after watching him play, there's no way you can deny the fact that he has a bright future with this team and I hope that US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will keep and eye out on him.
- The windy conditions really played a factor in this match. The wind blew Right to Left all match long and the wind was at Chicago's backs for the second half. I remember a couple weeks ago, there was a huge thunderstorm during their match against the Houston Dynamo and the referee decided to call the match early rather than suspend it for a second time. There were no thunderstorms however in this one so the referee didn't have to suspend or call the game early, but this is why they call it the Windy City.
- After the final whistle, tempers started to flare between the two sides. Ozzie Alonso and Jalil Anibaba went at it after there was a challenge in the box that the referee decided not to call a penalty on and I think that may have been between Alonso and Anibaba. Whatever it was, they went at it and a brawl broke out between the two sides. Even if the game is over, the referee needs to keep the players under control. The players are lucky that the referee didn't issue a card to anybody and I believe the MLS disciplinary committee is going to take a good look at his during midweek.
- The Sounders close out the month of April on a winning note. Now they have to hop back on the plane and head back to Seattle and start preparing for their match on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Galaxy and with the struggles that LA have gone through, maybe this is where the Sounders can possibly get their first win at home against the Galaxy in MLS play. They did beat LA on their home ground in 2009 and also defeated LA in the U.S. Open Cup at the Starfire Sports Complex in 2010 and 2011, but their is no excuse this time. The Sounders need to protect their fortress against LA and come away with all three points. It's going to be a big month and I think it'll be the key to how well the Sounders will fare against their Western Conference foes in the race for the top spot in the West.
- I just got an update earlier about the scrap between Ozzie Alonso and Jalil Anibaba after the final whistle. Anibaba apparently was issued a red card and will be suspended for Chicago's next match along with head coach Frank Klopas. We could see more disciplinary action from the MLS disciplinary committee later this week after they review this match.
Seattle Sounders FC - Own goal (Arne Friedrich) 39'
Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson 1 (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 1) 67'
Chicago Fire - Marco Pappa 1 (unassisted) 89'
Seattle Sounders FC - David Estrada (caution; Time wasting) 60'
Seattle Sounders FC - Fredy Montero (caution; Dissent) 91'+
Chicago Fire - Marco Pappa (caution; Dissent) 91'+
Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson (caution; Time wasting) 92'+
Chicago Fire - Jalil Anibaba (straight red; Fight) 97'+
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Mauro Rosales (Marc Burch 51'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, David Estrada; Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 92'+)
Chicago Fire - Sean Johnson; Dan Gargan, Arne Friedrich, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares; Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause (Marco Pappa 61'), Pavel Pardo, Sebastian Grazzini (Rafael Robayo 80'), Daniel Paladini (Frederico Puppo 72'); Dominic Oduro