Sounders FC wanted to go into the World Cup break on a positive note and did just that with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire. A big part of that success came from two former Fire players who were playing at Toyota Park for the first time as visitors, as Marco Pappa assisted on the game-winning goal and Jalil Anibaba stonewalled Chicago's leading scorer entering the match, Quincy Amarikwa.
"We came to have a good game and get the points and that's what happened," Pappa said. "I'm happy with the group and what we did."
In the fifth minute, Pappa set up the game's first clear chance, leading Obafemi Martins in behind a high Chicago line. Martins took a touch to get around Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson, but his touch put him too far wide and his hurried effort skipped wide of the far post.
Pappa set up another chance for Chad Marshall in the 17th minute, chipping a ball to the far post off a short corner, but Marshall's header glanced just wide.
Finally in the 78th minute he registered his third assist of the season to give Seattle a 3-1 lead.
Pappa carried the ball up the right side and found Kenny Cooper with a cross. Cooper headed the ball through to Lamar Neagle for a rocket shot from the far side, knocking it in for his fifth goal of the season, capping off a stellar return to the Windy City.
"I was excited to see old friends and old fans. There were a lot of good feelings on the pitch. Chicago is a big part of my career," said Pappa, who played for the Fire from 2008-2012. "I hope they can get better results and that we can continue the way we are playing."
On the defensive side, Anibaba returned to the starting lineup as a means to create a more favorable matchup against Amarikwa, who finished the match with two assists on breakout goals by Harrison Shipp.
"I thought he bottled him up pretty good," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. "It was a good game for Jalil, so we were happy."
Anibaba was quick to distribute the credit in slowing down Amarikwa to the rest of the defense, particularly goalkeeper Stefan Frei and center back partner Chad Marshall.
"I know Quincy really well and when you know a player well like that you know his tendencies and you can anticipate what he's going to do, but I tried not to cheat too much," said Anibaba, who played from 2011-2013 with Chicago. "It wasn't just me. Chad was phenomenal and Stefan had some key goal-line saves and that's what won the game for us."
It was a happy return for both Pappa and Anibaba, returning to Chicago and playing in front of fans that had been so important in the early part of their careers. But the victory was the key for both players.
"It felt good. This city means a lot to me. It's always good to come back," Anibaba said. "The most important thing is three points and continuing the good run we've been on."