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Seattle Sounders at Chicago Fire - Gamethread

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As the Seattle Sounders prepare for their 100th MLS game, they face off against the only team that can rival them in expansion success. The Chicago Fire were once the darlings of the league but have struggled in the MLS 3.0 era. Recently they look like a probable Eastern Conference MLS Cup Playoff representative, with only Sporting Kansas City clearly better in the East. Today's 5:30 Pacific match is Seattle's second on the road against an opponent in the East. Unlike most of Seattle's sports teams, the Sounders do not struggle on multi-time zone trips.

The Fire use a conventional #10 in Sebastian Grazzini. His ability to play the throughball and deft touch fits like a puzzle against Seattle's best defensive talent in Osvaldo Alonso. That matchup should be in the Sounders favor, forcing Chicago into a punt and pray tactic that utilizes the speed of Oduro, Nyarko and Pappa. The defensive ability of Pause and Pardo could play like an odd offset band of two defensive mids. While they play a nominal diamond, Chicago's fullbacks do not get forward as much as is typical for the set. Seattle will have to break them down with tight passing in triangles.

Seattle will rely on a defense that is capable and varied. The source of points at this time for Sigi Schmid's club is their ability to shut opponents down. It is more than just goal prevention. Seattle wins duels, wins the passing advantage (this includes unforced errors), wins the shots advantage and is powerful in run of play and dead ball situations. Schmid commented this week about the importance of the defense;

"After the first two games, we've struggled a little bit. We haven't gotten on track completely. It's important that our defense has been able to keep us in games. When you take away the PK that San Jose got, we would have walked out of that game with a tie, as well. Defensively, we've done a good job of keeping us in games while our offense gets on track. It'd be nice to see both ends of it come together this weekend."

That defense will likely see the return of Adam Johansson and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado as Patrick Ianni has a back injury. The statistical advantage should foreshadow a win, likely in the 2-nil or 3-1 range, as long as Seattle's attacking four finish their opportunities. Unfortunately that is too rare lately.

The game is on KONG 6/16 & KIRO 97.3 FM (99.3 FM for Spanish) at 5:30 PM Pacific.

Pre Match Build-up: Three Questions | Scouting Report

Projected Lineups

Chicago

Nyarko Oduro
Grazzini
Pappa Pause
Pardo
Segares Gargan
Anibaba Friedrich
Johnson

Seattle

Johnson Montero
Estrada Rosales
Evans
Alonso
Gonzalez Johansson
Hurtado Parke
Gspurning

Team Statistics Matchups

Team

Duels

Possession

Pass Completion Advantage

Shots +/-

Run of Play

Dead Ball

Seattle

52.8%

50.4%

1.7

0.7

1

2

Fire

48.0%

44.3%

-3.2

-2.0

0

-1

Compiled from Opta data for all available matches - Duels and possession are typical. Passing advantage is a plus/minus figure comparing the team's pass completion rate to the team it opposes. A 10 for Seattle would mean that it averages a 10 point advantage in passing over the opponent. Shot +/- is the team stat.

Tactical Keys

  • Find the Lurking Left
  • Play off Fast Forwards
  • Work Around Pinched Mids
  • Feed Fredy

Player Matchups

  • Osvaldo Alonso v Sebastian Grazzini
  • Marco Pappa v Mauro Rosales
  • Fredy Montero v Sean Johnson

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