clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Quick Review: Sounders suffocate Fire's playoff hopes, win 1-0 (with quotes)

Blaise, you should know we share your joy.
Blaise, you should know we share your joy.

Blaise Nkufo silenced most of his critics last week when he scored his first three goals of his Sounders career. For his encore, he may have earned himself a cult following.

The Swiss national team player scored a 88' goal, collecting a pass from Steve Zakuani, deftly cutting the ball off the endline and then getting a bit lucky when his shot ricocheted off the outstretched leg of veteran defender C.J. Brown. It was the kind of play only world-class goal scorers seem to make and illustrated perfectly the importance of putting shots on frame.

Fredy Montero did not score, but was as active as we've seen him all year. On offense, he actually seemed to be playing on top of Nkufo much of the time -- allowing Nkufo to hover around the penalty box -- but dropped back into more of a 4-5-1 on defense. He was constantly jumping into passing lanes and seemed to be even more willing to pass than normal, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that he was getting the ball much farther back than normal. It's not necessarily how I want to see Montero used every week, but in a game like this where a tie was enough, it really shows his maturation from a player who if he wasn't scoring was verging on invisible.

The Sounders were far from dominant, but they did play a classic road-game counter-attacking style. They knew the Fire could not afford to settle for a tie and the Sounders finally were able to exploit some of their opponent's aggressiveness. Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni and Osvaldo Alonso were at the top of their game, mostly limiting any Fire opportunities. When they weren't up to the task -- such as Marco Pappa's first-half strike from about eight yards out and Freddie Ljungberg's slicing shot from the edge of the penalty area -- Kasey Keller once again was able to bail them out.

The victory puts the Sounders at 39 points, even with San Jose, two points ahead of Colorado (pending tonight's result), six points up on Kansas City, eight points ahead of Toronto and, if it even matters anymore, 13 ahead of Chicago.

With four matches left to play, the Sounders probably need to find at least three more points. A victory at home next week over Toronto FC would fit that bill perfectly.

Quotes and stats after the jump

Goals by Period




Seattle Sounders FC




Chicago Fire





Scoring Summary:

SEA - Blaise Nkufo (Steve Zakuani) 88


Chicago Fire  - Sean Johnson, Gonzolo Segares (Deris Umanzor 58), Kwame Watson-Sirigoe, C.J. Brown, Bratislav Ristic, Marco Pappa, John Thorrington, Logan Pause (Collins John 82), Patrick Nyarko, Freddie Ljungberg, Calen Carr (Brian McBride 64)

Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Dykstra, Dasan Robinson, Baggio Husidic, Corben Bone.


Seattle Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Sanna Nyassi (Roger Levesque 82), Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis (Alvaro Fernandez 78), Steve Zakuani (Tyrone Marshall 91), Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo. 

Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Mike Seamon, Mike Fucito. 



Misconduct Summary:

CHI - John Thorrington (caution; Reckless Tackle) 27

CHI - Marco Pappa (caution; Reckless Tackle) 70


Referee: Jasen Anno

Referee's Assistants: Peter Balciunas; Claudio Badea-

4th Official: Michael Kennedy

Attendance: 17,477

Time of Game: 1:50

Weather: 60 degrees

All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial



Quote Sheet

Chicago Fire 0 : 1 Seattle Sounders FC

Sept. 25, 2010


Carlos de los Cobos, Chicago Fire Head Coach


On the match:

"In the front, we just weren't clear with the opportunities that we had. We didn't have patience. We weren't precise with our last touches in the offensive quarter of the field."



Freddie Ljundberg, Chicago Fire Forward


On the result:

"I think we created a lot of chances and probably should have scored on some of them, which is annoying but that's how it is, a bit of bad luck.  We need to be extremely proud of today, we played really well.  Unfortunately how the table looks we had to go for the win at the end.  We conceded a late goal because we wanted to push forward."


On the "unlucky" goal scored by Seattle:

"It was a little bit unlucky.  We did open up in the back at the end, but we did it on purpose to try and get a goal.  We put two big strikers on to hit it a bit longer and that allowed them to get a lucky goal. As a whole we dominated the entire game and played really well.  It was a lucky goal and it's hard to take because when you look at the Real Salt Lake and Philadelphia game we didn't play well, but today we played really well, dominated and pushed them back."


On where the team goes from here:

"I think we took a good step forward.  I think today everyone did exactly their job.  What you saw on the field was a totally committed team.  We just have to keep that going, which is hard now to get into the playoffs, but really happy about the way the team responded after some meetings this week."


Logan Pause, Chicago Fire Midfielder


On the result:

"It's really, really disappointing.  Looking at the game we came out with a lot of energy and played fairly well, which is good, but we're at the stage in the season where that means nothing.  We need to get wins anywhere we can get them.  It's disappointing especially because we were playing a team that we are chasing for the last playoff spot.  We have a steep, steep hill to climb in the last six games."


On giving up late goals this season:

"Today it comes from trying to push the game; a point doesn't do a lot.  We made some tactical changes at the end of the game that opened us up a little bit.  We're pressing to win the game; it's just where we are in the season.  We can't just be content with a draw anymore in order to even give us a chance at making the playoffs.  Unfortunately, it didn't work out for us tonight."


Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire Goalkeeper


On the result:

"Overall today it's been the same as the last four or five game, it just hasn't been good enough to get a win.  The results reflect how we've been playing, and results don't lie."


Gonzalo Segares, Chicago Fire Defender

Thoughts on the game:

"It's frustrating. We controlled for the majority of the game, and we just didn't take advantage of the chances that we created. That has been the fortune that we've been having throughout the season. Again, it is really frustrating since we gave our best effort tonight. Now, all we have to do is to think ahead on the next match against San Jose [Earthquakes]."

On the team spirit coming into the game:

"I think all the players who came out to the field tonight did a great effort. We came in to the game with a lot of motivation, and indeed, we played very well. But, as you can see, we haven't been precise in the last touch, and the only way to win games is by scoring we will have to put an especial emphasis on that."

Seattle Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid


On the match:

"Tonight was one of those games where you pull up your sleeves and just battle and fight.  We knew Chicago was going to come out with great intensity but for them it was a playoff game.  We had to make sure we matched their effort and I thought we did a good job of that.  I thought we created some chances off the counter, which we were able to do.  We came close a couple of times, like on Montero's header and Sanna's [Nyassi] on the break.  Eventually we got a goal from Blaise [Nkufo], which was a little bit fortunate.  I thought defensively we were very solid tonight.  For us, the focus for us is next weekend in Toronto, and the Open Cup final is right after that."


On Nkufo's play:

"There were times where he helped us in possession in the second half and which allowed us to get some pressure off our back line which was very important.  Obviously, Zakuani hit a great ball to [Nkufo] and put him through, and he basically did the rest.  Sometimes that's the way it is with the goal scorer. "


On logging nearly 18,000 travel miles in the past couple of weeks:

"It's been pretty impressive that we have to do that.  Sometimes the guys don't even remember what their room numbers are; they've been in so many different hotel rooms.  Again, to come out of this at the end of the trip and to be playing our fourth game in 13 days and to come out with a one-nothing win was huge."


On Keller's key saves in the beginning of the match:

"There were some chances they had early and certainly Keller made an absolutely huge save. Maybe I am so used to seeing it from him over all the years you being to expect it.  But that's what great goalkeeper's do; they come up with a key save that keeps you in the game.   He certainly did that for us tonight."


Seattle Sounders Defender James Riley


On the match:

"I thought defensively whenever you hold a team to zero, it gives our team a chance to win.  We did that.  I thought both teams had some good opportunities and Keller made some big saves and we made some big defensive plays and we were able to get the goal.  We're very happy fortunate that way."


On the game's playoff implications:

"I think both teams approached it like a playoff atmosphere, and that's what it was.  The tempo of the game was very high at times, but it got a bit chippy at the end.  Overall I thought both teams competed very well, and kudos to them because they battled and threw guys forward.  We bent but we didn't break.   The entire team defended well and made it difficult for them.  The game's dimensions changed when they took Calen Carr out and they had a more 'post-up' vibe with McBride and we were aware of that and tried to neutralize that.  Freddy Ljungberg was buzzing around, Nyarko was buzzing around, Pappa was buzzing, and they had some good opportunities, so again we were fortunate to get out of here with a win. "


Seattle Sounders Midfielder Steve Zakuani


On his assist:

"It was on a counter attack.  We missed a few chances so it was like, it's either now or never.  So I just sort of broke away and Blaise makes a good run, I found him out wide and he did the rest.  He cut the guy well and shot the ball on frame and that's all you can ask for.  It takes a deflection but when the ball goes in the goal, we'll take that at this stage.  So that was a huge win coming in because it's a tough place to play.  Now we fly back with three points and that's huge for the playoffs. "


Seattle Sounders Goalkeeper and Captain Kasey Keller


On the impact of his two early saves on the game:

"You never know.  Sometimes you have games where you concede a goal and it sparks your team and it gives you life, and other times it's about keeping them in the game.  I think it was a day where everyone did their job and I was called upon to make a few saves and I was able to make them today.  It was nice.  The key is with only a few games left we need to pick up as many points as we can to insure that we get ourselves in the playoffs.  The last two away wins against Columbus and Chicago were huge because Kansas City keeps winning and San Jose keeps winning so we know that we have to follow suit."


Seattle Sounders Forward Blaise Nkufo


On being patient and getting the goal late in the game:

"I think Zakuani was right, just like he says in games, 'Next chance, next chance, it will come,' and we will score a goal.  That was the case.  He gave me a great ball and I had the opportunity to score a goal."


On his goal:

"I received the ball on the left side, and I battled physically with the defenders.  The goal was open and basically got lucky on the deflection but I've scored many goals like that in my career."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Sounder At Heart Weekly Roundup newsletter!

A twice weekly roundup of Seattle Sounders and OL Reign news from Sounder at Heart