Second Glance: Chicago Fire

The Sounders FC moved to 5-4-6 with a 0-0 draw at Toyota Park against the Chicago Fire, remaining unbeaten in six matches with the Fire. Seattle is third in the Western Conference.

The Sounders came at the Chicago Fire early with three shots on goal in the first 17 minutes, but they couldn’t solve goalkeeper Sean Johnson or the Fire defense and had to settle for a 0-0 draw.  The Sounders are now 5-4-6 and their 21 points puts them third in the Western Conference.

Turning Point
Kasey Keller made several acrobatic saves to match Johnson’s early heroics and the goalkeepers appeared to be the match’s top performers.  The biggest turning point may have come when Fredy Montero and Logan Pause were side-by-side going after a Keller punt, though.  Montero, in his second straight appearance off the bench for the Sounders, zipped past Pause and looked like he would have a one-on-one opportunity with Johnson as he went into the box.  However, Pause fell to the grass and referee Terry Vaughn made the call from well behind the play.  Replays showed nothing but clumsy feet from Pause as the referee’s whistle denied perhaps the best goal-scoring opportunity.

Standouts
Keller
earned his fourth clean sheet of the season and 25th in his MLS career with five saves against the Fire.  The most incredible came when Daniel Paladini sent a hard shot against the grain toward the top corner of the net.  Keller lunged to his right and got just enough of the ball to redirect it away for a corner kick.  It was another in a long line of tremendous stops this season for Keller.
Osvaldo Alonso has been tremendous in the middle of midfield for the Sounders all season and this weekend was no different.  Chicago often tried to move the ball through the middle of the field, only to have Alonso snuff out any attack either by shutting off channels that could be exploited or simply taking the ball off the feet of the ball-carrier.

What We Learned
Every Opportunity Counts –
Seattle had three chances on goal in the first 17 minutes and it looked like they would have several more as the game went on.  However, Nate Jaqua’s shot from distance in the 17th minute was the last to put Johnson in a position where he had to make a save.  If just one of those three first-half chances had been put away, Seattle could have broken the game wide open.  They were instead slowed by the heat and had to settle for the scoreless draw.
Keller Isn’t Slowing Down Anytime Soon – Keller dipped his goals against average all the way down to 0.87 in picking up his fourth clean sheet of the season.  His save of Paladini and several others kept Chicago from taking a point away from Seattle.

Next In Line
The Sounders will host a struggling Vancouver Whitecaps FC side on Saturday night on Fox Soccer.  The Whitecaps are at the bottom of the Western Conference at just 1-6-7 (10 points).  It will be the first regular season meeting of the two clubs since Vancouver joined MLS this season.

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