Sounders keep playoff hopes alive with 1-0 win over Chicago
Sep 28, 2016, 9:48 PM | Updated: Sep 29, 2016, 9:12 am
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer seemed to be sticking with the “if-it-ain’t-broke, don’t-fix-it” strategy with his lineup for Wednesday’s home match against the Chicago Fire, which was completely unchanged from Sunday’s 4-2 win in Los Angeles. Injuries to Brad Evans and Erik Friberg limited Schmetzer’s rotation options, considering that this one was a must-win if the Sounders hope to continue their late playoff push. Chicago, which currently sits on the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, brought all of its weapons to Seattle in an attempt to get its second road win of the 2016 season, but the home side got a goal from Chad Marshall and held on for a tight 1-0 win, getting an extremely vital three points.
As expected, Chicago didn’t exactly come flying off the block to start the match, choosing instead to sit deep and try to ping Seattle on the counter. The Sounders tried to play their brand of possession-based soccer and work the ball into dangerous areas, but they were unable to create anything of note in the opening minutes.
Chicago had a couple of dangerous moves into the final third, but they were all sufficiently snuffed out before they came to anything. Another dangerous long ball by Chicago almost gave David Accam a golden opportunity if it weren’t for an excellent tackle by Roman Torres.
The Sounders finally found the net in the 24th minute, when Marshall headed it in from an Andreas Ivanschitz corner kick. Jordan Morris was almost through on goal immediately afterwards, but Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson snuffed out the attack well. Johnson came up big again for Chicago when he blocked Morris’ shot after the forward was through on goal.
The second half took a few minutes to get going, with Chicago nearly finding some chances early, the best of which came from Accam, who would have been through on Stefen Frei’s goal were it not for a big Marshall sliding tackle.
The Sounders came much closer with some of their chances, including a one-on-one for Morris after Ivanschitz brilliantly back-heel flicked a throw-in into space for the forward.
While it wasn’t immediately detrimental to the Sounders, Nicolas Lodeiro was given a yellow card halfway through the half for blocking a quick Chicago free kick. This means that he’ll miss Sunday’s match in Vancouver due to yellow-card accumulation.
Nelson Valdez had a few opportunities after coming on as a substitute, but he was unable to make the most of any of them.
Frei had his most notable save of the game in injury time, when he tipped away a shot after the ball bounced around in his box.
Man of the match: Marshall, who was solid on defense all night and scored the only goal of the match to preserve the win for Seattle.
One reason to worry: Being without Lodeiro in Vancouver is going to be a huge blow as he’s been the most important player in the Sounders’ revolution under Schmetzer.
One reason to relax: Thanks to the win in Los Angeles and Wednesday’s result, getting a win in Vancouver isn’t as crucial as it could have been. Getting a point or three there would be important, of course, but a loss is not the end of the world for the Sounders if they’re able to win the rest of their home matches.
Spenser Davis also covers the Sounders for Sounder at Heart.