The Sounders FC dodged a bullet at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., on Saturday night. The Chicago Fire were the first-half aggressors and Seattle looked to be springing to life to start the second half when they went down a man with still 40 minutes to play. Marco Pappa scored in the 68th minute, but Tyrone Marshall equalized in the 74th and Seattle held on for the 1-1 draw.
It was an ominous start to the match when Marshall was issued a yellow card within the games first minute. Chicago went on to pepper Seattle with 15 shots, while Seattle managed only four. Over one stretch in the middle of the first half, the Sounders FC held possession for an extended period of time, but couldn’t get into position to attack. The Fire, meanwhile, were getting shots at every turn.
Despite Chicago controlling the ball for most of the first half, but Seattle had a great chance to take the lead just before the first half expired. Freddie Ljungberg lofted in a corner kick from the right side and Nate Jaqua skied in for the header, but he sent it over the net and the referee blew the whistle to end the first half.
The Sounders FC carried that momentum into the second half and looked in control, but then Fredy Montero jumped for a header in the midfield in the 49th minute and was given a red-card ejection when his elbow caught Gonzalo Segares in the side of the head.
“I thought Chicago was the better team in the first half, and we rode our luck a little in the first half. At the half we sorted out our issues, but the red card changed everything,” Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller said.
Chicago took advantage in the 68th minute. Cuauhtemoc Blanco chased down a ball along the right sideline and bounced a cross to Pappa at the top of the box for a one-touch shot from 22 yards out. The shot bounced past Keller just inside the right post for the 1-0 lead. It was the first goal Keller allowed in his first 456 minutes in the MLS, extending the record he set in last week’s 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. He finished with four saves on the game.
Seattle responded in the 74th minute when second-half substitute Sebastien Le Toux earned a corner kick on the right side. Ljungberg took the kick, but it flew over the heads of a horde of players in front of the net. That’s where Marshall lunged at the ball and knocked it in for the equalizer. It was his first goal with the Sounders and 14th goal in 12 MLS seasons.
“I knew coming over here I’d have the opportunity to be involved on set plays. We’ve scored every way, except a set piece so far this season,” Marshall said. “We really wanted to get goal and it came at the right time tonight.”
The Sounders held on for the draw, moving their record to 4-2-1 (13 points). Chicago remains unbeaten at 2-0-5 (11 points).
“We have to play them better next time we face them. We’re fortunate to get a point, but we showed a lot of character, too,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Going down 1-0, with a man down and getting a goal off our first corner kick goal of the year is huge for us.”
Seattle hosts the LA Galaxy next Sunday, with a noon kickoff at Qwest Field.