BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois – The Sounders FC wanted a big game to kick off their stretch of five games in 15 days. They got just that from Eddie Johnson, Michael Gspurning and the rest of the squad as they battled to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire in front of 14,166 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Johnson scored his first Sounders FC goal as the Sounders improved to 4-1-1 (13 points) and a 89th minute wonder-goal from Marco Pappa prevented Gspurning from picking up his fourth clean sheet of the season, cutting short his shutout streak at 336 straight minutes.
“It’s a great win for us because we only play them once and to play away and be able to get three points is important,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Not our best game or our most artistic game, but at the end all that matters is the result.”
After an evenly-played first half, the Sounders got on the board first in the 39th minute.
Johnson chased down a ball on the left side of the box from Osvaldo Alonso and played it back to David Estrada, who ripped a shot that deflected off Arne Friedrich and past Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson for the goal. Major League Soccer initially credited Estrada with the goal, but rescinded the ruling after the match and instead ruled it an own goal.
In the 61st minute, the Fire apparently knotted the score on a shot from Pappa through traffic, but Chicago had a few players flagged offside and the goal was waved off.
The Sounders turned that in their favor in the 67th minute when Fredy Montero ripped a free kick from 36 yards out and Sean Johnson went to his knees to block it. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado got a foot to the rebound and then Eddie Johnson put the final touch to knock it in for his first Sounders goal to put Seattle up 2-0.
“For a striker it’s good for confidence,” Johnson said. “Without the effort of my teammates and the guys around me, I don’t think that goal would have been possible. We knew it was going to be tough playing here, but we showed good discipline. Good teams get good results and I think that was the case.”
That lead held until the final moments of the match when Chicago earned a corner kick on the right side in the 89th minute. Pappa bent the corner kick inside the far post and the wind-aided effort bounced off the post just beyond Gspurning’s outstretched arm for the goal, narrowing Seattle’s lead to 2-1.
In a long stretch of stoppage time, Gspurning made another late save off a blast from Jalil Anibaba, snaring his blistering ball from the top of the box for his third save of the night, sealing victory for the Sounders, who held off the late surge from the Fire.
The match also marked the return of Mauro Rosales and Adam Johansson. Out since the season-opener against Toronto FC, Johansson played the full 90 minutes at right back while Rosales played 51 minutes before giving way to Marc Burch. Rosales took a knock to the ankle early in the match and was taken off when he felt discomfort at the start of the second half.
Seattle is now 5-0-3 all-time against the Fire, including a win in the 2011 US Open Cup final.
The Sounders return home to face the LA Galaxy at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday, then host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday in a nationally televised match on NBC Sports.
Sounders FC – Own goal (Arne Friedrich) 39; Eddie Johnson (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado) 67.
Fire – Marco Pappa 89.
Sounders FC – David Estrada (caution) 60; Fredy Montero (caution) 91+; Eddie Johnson (caution) 92+.
Fire – Marco Pappa (caution) 91+.
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+).
Fire – Sean Johnson, Dan Gargan, Arne Friedrich, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares, Daniel Paladini (Federico Puppo 72), Pavel Pardo, Sebastian Grazzini (Rafael Robayo 80), Logan Pause (Marco Pappa 61), Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko.