Small confession: I did not watch Saturday's 2-1 Seattle Sounders victory over the Chicago Fire. I was setting up my wife's surprise birthday party and used the game as plausible cover. So, my impressions are are based on what I heard on the radio and saw in highlights.
First off, it should be said that listening to a Sounders game on the radio is really a very enjoyable experience. Last year, Dave called the Sounders radio broadcast "broken," mainly because he found the simulcast to be ill-suited for the format. I don't know if those criticism were taken to heart or if I just have a different opinion, but I thought Arlo did a great job of describing the action in a way I could follow.
As for the actual game, it's quickly becoming apparent that O'Brian White and Mauro Rosales deserve to be starting, almost regardless of who is healthy. White may not be a clinical finisher in the mold of, say, Blaise Nkufo, but he is a capable player who has good vision and a quality passing touch. Rosales seems to be dangerous every time he touches the ball, finding space where there doesn't seem to be much and spotting teammates when they are in dangerous positions.
The problem is neither are 90-minutes fit, and there's really no way around that. In their last two games, when both were at their best, their effectiveness has seriously declined as the game wore on. It's not necessarily a huge problem since the Sounders have capable players coming off the bench, but it is something coaches must be mindful of.
While our offense seems to finally be benefitting from the depth we thought they had all along, the defense is really looking thin. I have to believe that one of the problems is that Jeff Parke has not really had any chance to settle in with a center back partner. Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado play very different styles and Parke has looked much more unsettled this year than he did last year. On Saturday, Kasey Keller was able to bail out the Sounders defense from most of their shortcomings, but that is not a winning strategy moving forward.
The stats and quotes, in this case, tell a story of the Sounders finally getting a better result than they may have deserved. By all rights, this game could have very easily been a tie, but the Sounders will definitely take the two extra points at this point.
Goals by Period 1 2 Tot Chicago Fire 1 0 1 Seattle Sounders 2 0 2 SEA -- O'Brian White 2 (Mauro Rosales 2) 7 CHI -- Diego Chaves 3 (Patrick Nyarko 1, Gaston Puerari 1) 8 SEA -- Steve Zakuani 2 (O'Brian White 1) 25 Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Dasan Robinson, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares (Dominic Oduro 83), Logan Pause, Marco Pappa, Michael Videira, Patrick Nyarko (Orr Barouch 90), Gaston Puerari, Diego Chaves. Misconduct Summary: SEA -- James Riley (caution; Reckless Tackle) 32 SEA -- Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution; Reckless Tackle) 47+ CHI -- Dasan Robinson (caution; Reckless Foul) 71 SEA -- Servando Carrasco (caution; Reckless Tackle) 90 Referee: Hilario Grajeda Referee's Assistants:-Fabio Tovar; Cameron Blair 4th Official: Tyler Ploeger Attendance: 36,223 Time of Game: 1:52 Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-52-degrees
Substitutes Not Used: Yamith Cuesta, Marko Maric, Dan Paladini, Davis Paul, Jon Conway.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (3 tied with 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Diego Chaves 2); FOULS: 10 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Marco Pappa 1, Dasan Robinson 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Marco Pappa 2, Gaston Puerari 2); SAVES: 2 (Sean Johnson 2)
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales (Nate Jaqua 64), Erik Friberg, O'Brian White (Servando Carrasco 81), Steve Zakuani.
Substitutes Not Used: Alvaro Fernandez, Patrick Ianni, Lamar Neagle, Zach Scott, Terry Boss.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Osvaldo Alonso 3, Steve Zakuani 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 tied with 1); FOULS: 16 (3 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (O'Brian White 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Erik Friberg 3); SAVES: 4 (Kasey Keller 4)
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Goals by Period
SEA -- O'Brian White 2 (Mauro Rosales 2) 7
CHI -- Diego Chaves 3 (Patrick Nyarko 1, Gaston Puerari 1) 8
SEA -- Steve Zakuani 2 (O'Brian White 1) 25
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Dasan Robinson, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares (Dominic Oduro 83), Logan Pause, Marco Pappa, Michael Videira, Patrick Nyarko (Orr Barouch 90), Gaston Puerari, Diego Chaves.
SEA -- James Riley (caution; Reckless Tackle) 32
SEA -- Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution; Reckless Tackle) 47+
CHI -- Dasan Robinson (caution; Reckless Foul) 71
SEA -- Servando Carrasco (caution; Reckless Tackle) 90
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants:-Fabio Tovar; Cameron Blair
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-52-degrees
|Seattle Sounders FC||Chicago Fire|
|Seattle Sounders FC||Chicago Fire|
|14||Attempts on Goal||12|
|4||Shots on Target||5|
|5||Shots off Target||2|
|17||Open Play Crosses||7|
|50%||Duels Won %||49%|
|75%||Passing Accuracy %||68%|
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Chicago Fire - Postgame Quotes
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(General Comments...) "Obviously, we're happy to win. We didn't make it easy on ourselves in the second half, but we got some great saves; Kasey Keller made some big time saves for us. Sometimes when you're trying to grind out that first win, sometimes you need a little of that going your way. I thought in the first half we played well. The two goals we scored I thought were good and we should have probably had a third on Eric Friberg's opportunity there, and I thought the goal we gave up was a little soft right after we scored the first goal. That's something we need to do better on. A win's a win. We got three points and get that monkey off our back a little bit, and now we can move forward and start to concentrate on Philadelphia."
(On O'Brian White...) "He did well. The cross from Rosales was actually a little bit behind him. I thought he did really well to contort his body in the air and get his head to it. He did a really good job, especially the first 45 minutes, shielding and holding up play for us. The 1-2 he hit with Zakuani was great. In the preseason I said that we're going to find some joy once he finds his confidence and he has two goals now in last two games and has an assist. He knows that Nate's (Jaqua) about ready to go and if that's motivating him, that's fine. I thought he played well. He took a pretty good knock in the ankle and that really started to bother him in the second half. That was one of the reasons we had to change him, he wasn't as effective in the second half because of that. I thought he had a very, very good first 45 minutes."
(On winning...) "It feels a lot better. You can deal with bumps and bruises a lot better when you win. Soccer is a sport where sometimes you can dominate and not get the result that you want at the end of the day. Would I classify this as our best game? Yes because we got three points. Was it technically our best game? Maybe not, but at the end of the day, I thought offensively the big talk was can we score goals? We have five goals now in last three games. We need to be a bit more decisive at times in the back and eliminate opportunities that we're giving away."
(On Kasey Keller...) "That was world class. That was Kasey Keller from his prime. As you finish out a career, to be able to manage and put out performances like that is a tremendous tribute to the work that he does on a daily basis. Those three saves were big time."
(On offensive players...) "Rosales looks to find a space and what Mauro does really well is he plays in space. He's technically good, but he also plays the ball and goes there. There was two or three times he got behind the defense and that was good. Friberg, we gave him a little bit of a free roll from midfield and he started going some different places. And he did that. And Zakuani, we want to get him the ball a little more and I don't think we got it to him enough. We wanted O'Brian White to stay up top and in the first half he did a great job. When you look at when they were attacking, there was always two guys back marking O'Brian White. If he can tie up two guys, that's a huge benefit to us."
(On getting first win...) "The guys never stopped believing in themselves. Getting a win today, even though it was a little of an ugly win, is tremendous for their self confidence in themselves and in each other. There have been a number of people who have come up and contributed. Everybody played their part and everybody did their role. As everybody fights for each other and they're willing to do that and I know they're willing to do that, then we'll get more good results."
(On service on set plays...) "We always want to have better service. Mauro has a little tightness in his quad, so he didn't take as many corners as he would have maybe normally. Himself and Eric and Alonso have shown that they're capable of hitting free kicks. Carrasco, when he's in the game, will probably get free kicks as well. So we have some guys who can serve the ball. Our running is a little more definite. We just missed on a couple corners. I thought the running was much better. So it's not only the service, but also hard runs."
(On Osvaldo Alonso...) "The ball hit him on one side of the face, so he has an ice pack there and he caught en elbow on other side of the face, so has an ice pack there as well."
(On Jhon Kennedy Hurtado returning to the starting lineup...) "My feeling on JK coming off his injury and getting back into the flow, I think he needed to get away from the week to week a little bit and catch his breath. My goal always was to put JK back in. We thought today, defensively, he's one of the ones that's pretty good and their guys are pretty good one-on-one forwards, so we looked at last week's game and made a decision between Parke and Ianni and that's the way we decided to go."
(On Osvaldo Alonso...) "It was typical. I think his passing was a little off today. It wasn't as sharp as in the past it has been. We also need to help out a little more. The biggest evolution of our team is to do what you need to do to win the game, not do what you want to do. I thought Ozzie helped us win the game."
(On offensive scheme...) "I don't think we went with three forwards. Really it was a 4-4-2, just Rosales had the ability to drop off and find space and Zakuani pushed a little higher. It really wasn't a lot different than the way we've played."
O'Brian White - Sounders FC Forward
(On getting the first win of the season...) "Definitely feels good to get the first win. We've come close a couple times in previous games and didn't get the three points, but today we finally got it. It feels great. It just gives us more motivation going forward."
(On what the difference was today...) "There wasn't much difference. We gave it all. Today especially we came out and gave everything. We decided we weren't going to leave without the three points."
(On his involvement in both goals...) "The first was a ball played up by James (Riley). He (Mauro Rosales) played a very good ball and I just put it in the back of the net. The second one was just Steve (Zakuani) going one on one. He made a move and he scored a great goal."
(On if he feels more comfortable with teammates...) "Definitely. The more you play the more you get to figure out players. I just think it's a work in progress but it's been good. Just keep working and work off of each other and success will follow."
(On Kasey Keller...) "Kasey was big today. They had a lot of chances at him. Sometimes you need your goalkeeper to make big saves and sometimes you need your attacking midfielders and forwards to make plays. Today was a balance. It was real good for us today and I'm glad to get this win."
Steve Zakuani - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On if he played the game differently today...) "No, I played my usual game. Just my usual. I didn't do anything special today. Just played how you know we play."
(On how it feels to get the first win of the season...) "I think it's a progression and continuation of how we play. If you want to spin it, we haven't lost in three games. That's one way to look at it. Has there been a bad performance this year? Maybe for stretches against L.A. and New York, but other than that we've been in every game and actually been the dominant team in most of them. It's just a progression. We should have won against Houston and didn't do that, should have won against San Jose and didn't hold on to the lead. Today we managed to do that. I think we've been playing well and we'll continue to get better and reap the rewards of our effort today."
(On how important it was to win today...) "We had to win this one. This place has to become a fortress. I think the best teams around the world are teams that win most of their home games and we need to do that. I think we've been pretty good at home most of the time, but we need to keep on going. We've got some tough away games coming up now so it's good to get that win and get some points on the board. The confidence is there. Hopefully we'll carry that onto the road."
(On Kasey Keller...) "It's big time. You can't go through a season without having to rely on your keeper at some point and he kept us in the game in the second half, for sure. That's Kasey Keller. I'm not going to say anything new that you haven't heard before. He's a great goalkeeper and when he's called upon we depend on him and he managed to do that today. Good play by Kasey."
Kasey Keller - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On the importance of his saves in the second half...) "I don't even worry about it. I'm just glad I was able to make some saves for the team. Last game was a little frustrating because I was able to make a couple saves in the first half and then in the second half they got that goal, then we drew 2-2. It was nice to be able to finish it off this week and come up with the saves. It's just a shame we weren't able to get that third goal to ice this thing. Three points was desperately needed. Everybody is leaving now with a great weekend and now hopefully it's just a spring board for many more to come."
(On if the win stands out more to him than the saves...) "Always. The win is what stands out. The saves are what they pay me money to do. It's nice to be able to come up with that and help the team win. That's what we're all striving to do. Would I prefer to just hang back there, distribute a few balls, lead the game and take a few crosses? Of course. But when you're called upon it's always nice to be able to come up big for the team."
Carlos de los Cobos - Chicago Fire Head Coach
(On his overall impressions of the match...) "This was a very difficult match, but I'm very satisfied with my team. I think the team played good and I think we had a very good second half. The best player today was Seattle's goalkeeper (Kasey Keller). My players had a very good effort and we had some really good moments on the pitch. We had two mistakes and they took advantage of this. We had some chances to score and we couldn't come away with more goals. The most important thing to take away is the attitude of the group and players. I like my team because they are showing the evolution our team is having this season."
(On his view of Seattle's two goals...) "The first goal O'Brian [White] made a very good play. We were distracted and he took advantage at that moment. The second goal, we need to finish our action early, but Seattle was able to respond and take advantage. We have young players who are learning, they have a good personality on the field and the guys give one-hundred percent."
(On Kasey Keller performance today...) "Kasey had a very good performance today. He was the best player for Seattle. I tell my players to attack and we needed to learn to take advantage of any chances we have during a match."
Diego Chaves - Chicago Fire Forward
(On the goal he scored today...) "Today the goal was useless; it has no flavor for me. We still lost the match."
(On Kasey Keller performance today...) "He was clearly the man of the match and had great interventions. He was the key for Seattle's victory."