Seattle came into Chicago yesterday knowing that this match had all the hallmarks of a bad trip. Chicago was sporting a nine-game winless streak and had just changed its coach. No matter what team playing whatever sport you care to name, when a team changes a coach, the players always play harder knowing their jobs are on the line with the new management.
Despite this, the Sounders opened the scoring opportunities in the 6th minute when midfielder Mauro Rosales sent a cross in to Lamar Neagle. Neagle was unmarked at the far post and Chicago keeper Sean Johnson made a great play to keep the ball out of the net.
Neagle got clear again three minutes later but Johnson was able to send the shot over the crossbar.
After that, Chicago unleashed a furious span of play, controlling the ball and getting the opportunities.
The first real chance came in the 12th minute. Fire defender Bratislav Ristic’s pass found forward Diego Cháves at the top of the box, Chavez unleashed a low shot that forced Sounders keeper Kasey Keller to make the save at the right post.
In the 27th minute, Keller came up with a big save as Chicago midfielder Corben Bone found an open Daniel Paladini with a good pass. Paladini took the shot, smashing a 25-yard shot that looked destined to be buried in the top left corner. Keller found his fountain of youth to be able to stretch enough to tip the ball away.
Paladini and Bone were at it again in the 29th minute. Bone led Paladini into the open space behind the Seattle defense, but Paladini’a shot went wide of the left post. Cháves then tested Keller with a shot that Keller was just barely able to stop.
The second half was more of the same but felt like play was at a slower pace, probably due to the muggy 85 degree heat.
Defender Tyson Wahl and forward Fredy Montero both missed attempts on direct free kicks in the second half. Both teams kept working for the win until the final whistle, with the Fire getting in the final shot, forcing Keller to make a save on an attempt from Chicago midfielder Baggio Husidic.
Final score: 0-0
Man of the Match:
I’m going to go with Kasey Keller for keeping the ball out of the net, preserving the point on the road, and sending Chicago to its 10th straight winless match.
Seattle, 5-4-6 with 21 points, returns home to take on northwest rival Vancouver next weekend. Hopefully Vancouver will be too hung over and distracted from celebrating a Stanley Cup victory to put too much into the match.
Photo credit: DAVID BANKS/GETTY IMAGES