Sounders FC vs. Chicago Fire
September 7, 2013, 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: NBC Sports; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
Resilience has been the name of the game for Sounders FC over the last few matches. Saturday’s match will continue to test the team as it concludes a stretch of three matches in eight days against the Chicago Fire at CenturyLink Field.
In the match, Sounders FC will finish of its 11th all-time string of three matches in eight days and with two wins already under its belt, Seattle has a chance to complete its third nine-point sweep in club history, but it will take a resilient effort against the Fire.
“Everybody’s got bumps and bruises – little aches and so forth,” Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “Nobody came out of it with anything serious. For us it’s a matter of looking at our team, looking at our lineup and looking at where we can get some fresh legs out there and how we can balance it off.”
Schmid already turned to his depth in a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA on Wednesday. Coming off of a shorthanded 1-0 win over Columbus last week in which he lost four starters to injury, suspension and international duty, the Seattle coach started his 24th lineup in 25 MLS matches. With Leo Gonzalez coming back from suspension and Obafemi Martins a game-time decision while he recovers from a sprained ankle that has held him out of Seattle’s last four matches, reinforcements are on the way.
Four times in club history, Sounders FC has gone unbeaten when it plays three matches in eight days, including the only time it has been faced with that rigorous schedule this season. In that stretch, Seattle started with a road draw against the Philadelphia Union, followed it up with a midweek win on the road against Sporting Kansas City and finished it off by smashing the San Jose Earthquakes 4-0 at CenturyLink Field.
History will be on Seattle’s side against the Fire, as Sounders FC has gone unbeaten against Chicago in the all-time series at 4-0-3 in league play. Seattle also won the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup against the Fire.
This year, though, Seattle faces Chicago for the first and only time. Fighting for its playoff life, the Fire sit in seventh in the East at 10-10-5. However, that record comes after a 2-7-1 start following the opening 10 matches.
“They are a team that’s in desperate need for points,” Schmid said. “They want to stay in the hunt in the East, so for them it’s a very important game.”
The difference-maker for the Fire came in the form of Chicago-native Mike Magee. After coming to the Fire in a trade on May 25, Magee made an instant impact with points in each of his first six matches. In 13 matches for Chicago, he has eight goals and three assists, giving him 14 goals on the season.
His partnership at forward with Chris Rolfe is one that has created havoc on opposing defenses. Much like Lamar Neagle and David Estrada did for Seattle on Wednesday against Chivas, Rolfe and Magee use their speed and tenacious effort to create chaos for defenders and scoring chances for the Fire.
“Those are tricky and mobile forwards, so you have to be sharp and alert and be prepared for a lot of place-changing,” Schmid said.
Seattle counters that attacking duo with a stingy defense that is riding a 286-minute shutout streak and is now best in the Western Conference with a 1.04 goals against average.