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GameThread: Sounders at Chicago Fire

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Scouting Report l Match Reference Card l Three Questions l Old profile on Freddie Ljungberg

With San Jose having already beaten Toronto, it's looking more and more like the playoffs are going to come down to Kansas City and Seattle. While a win could keep Chicago's hopes alive, anything less than that would probably signal the end of their season. The Sounders really need a result to feel even reasonably comfortable, and a win would really be preferable.

It's looking like all the usual suspects should be available for the Sounders, while Chicago will be missing defender William Conde. Nery Castillo continues to nurse an injury and will likely be limited to duty off the bench.

I'm not usually the Three Keys guy, but I'll give it a shot today:

1. Shut down Freddie Ljungberg: As the Scouting Report detailed, Ljungberg has had a rough season. That doesn't mean he's not capable of turning it around, especially not for one game against his former team and a coach with whom he seems to have a simmering feud. Keeping him pointless would be a good way to shut the chapter on Ljungberg's legacy.

2. Keep Blaise burning: Blaise Nkufo had a breakout game last week. He doesn't necessarily need to score, but keeping him involved will almost certainly lead to good things. The Sounders are 5-1-1 in the matches he's played and have not lost any MLS matches with him in the lineup. Just having him on the field is usually enough to help create space, keeping him happy and engaged would go a long way toward continuing that trend. Fredy Montero needs to play a part in that, but the more important figures will be the wings.

3. Watch Marco Pappa like a hawk: He's not the flashiest player, but Pappa has quietly become the Fire's leading goal scorer. Many of those goals have been through hard work, rather than spectacular play, but he obviously has a nose for the goal. Keeping him off the scoresheet will undoubtedly lead to good things. The Fire are 3-1-1 in matches when he's scored.

We'll get you lineups as soon as we get them.

As always, play nice.