Seattle Sounder FC pulled out a 1-0 victory at home that finally made good on one of the games in hand that they've had over their Western Conference foes for some time. Chad Marshall scored his fourth of the season. No it wasn't the perfect match, but Coach Brian Schmetzer and the players know that, playing on two days rest, they just had to do what it took to get the three points.
Seattle have hauled themselves into playoff position after many had counted them out. They are 12-13-5, 0 on goal difference. That's good for 41 points and 6th in the West. Four matches remain.
Seattle Sounders FC 1 - Chicago Fire 0
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink FIeld
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistants: Eduardo Mariscal, Jonathan Johnson
Fourth Official: Baboucarr Jallow
Weather: Partly cloudy and 62 degrees
SEA - Chad Marshall (Andreas Ivanschitz) 24'
SEA - Nicolás Lodeiro (caution) 58'
CHI - Razvan Cocis (caution) 75'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Chad Marshall, Román Torres, Joevin Jones; Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso - captain; Alvaro Fernandez (Erik Friberg 57'), Nicolás Lodeiro, Andreas Ivanschitz (Nelson Valdez 71'); Jordan Morris (Herculez Gomez 90+1')
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Zach Scott, Oniel Fisher, Oalex Anderson
Total shots: 11 (Lodeiro, 3)
Shots on goal: 4 (4 players, 1)
Fouls: 12 (Morris, 3)
Offside: 5 (Lodeiro, 2)
Corner-kicks: 5 (Ivanschitz, 4)
Saves: 2 (Frei, 2)
Chicago Fire - Sean Johnson; Johan Kappelhof, João Meira, Jonathan Cambell, Brandon Vincent; Matt Polster, Razvan Cocis - captain, Arturo Alvarez (John Goossens 66'), David Accam, Michael de Leeuw; Luis Solignac (David Arshakyan 76')
Substitutes not used: Patrick McLain, Michael Harrington, Eric Gehrig, Michael Stephens, Khaly Thiam
Total shots: 10 (Accam, 3)
Shots on goal: 2 (Arshakyan/Cocis, 1)
Fouls: 19 (Polster, 5)
Corner-kicks: 2 (Alvarez/Goossens, 1)
Saves: 3 (Johnson, 3)
SOUNDERS FC INTERIM HEAD COACH BRIAN SCHMETZER
On the lineup:
"I didn’t really have a ton of options because we were still hoping that Brad [Evans] could come back, [Erik] Friberg is still nursing his ankle. The team has been on a good roll. I might be a little more frugal in keeping the same lineup when it’s going well – I like to keep the same rhythm. I am also one to not put as much stock into playing on two days’ rest. I think it’s something you can overcome mentally. Having said that, were they as sharp as they could have been tonight? No. That was to be expected – the game in LA was such a massive victory that they were a little flat. Again, they somehow found a way to win. And that’s what you like about teams that can make it to the playoffs and do some good things in the playoffs."
On overcoming Chicago’s pressure:
"The game ebbs and flows. I don’t want our team to score the first goal and then drop off. I think teams sometimes do that and it lets teams back in. I want to make sure that I look at that on film – just having them believe that they can keep possession in the attacking half of the field would be my preference, but it is MLS. There is a lot of parity; Chicago is a good team. They have some good players."
On getting in playoff position:
"We give them all the credit – that is a committed group. Since the day I took over, they have given me everything. They have given everything for themselves. Nico has come in – we have talked about this, the new coach bump, all of those things – but I truly think they believe they have ownership of the team. And I think that was one of the bigger pieces that has allowed them to believe they could win in LA, that they could come back on two days’ rest and get a performance, that they could go to Orlando and win, that they could overcome a loss of arguably our best player – that is a small group in there. Again, it is testament to them."
On the defense:
"I will start by saying that the front two start the defending, so Nico and Jordan [Morris] put a lot of pressure on teams. That helps Chad [Marshall], Román [Torres]. Ozzie [Alonso], Cristian [Roldan] do a great job of shielding the back-line. It really starts at the front. We want to get guys behind the ball, we want to make sure we are selective in our pressure."
On the close match:
"Every game in our league is going to be a tight game at some point. Once we scored the first goal, would we have loved to score the second? Of course…Would I love to have been sitting here with the score a little higher? Sure. Maybe I could have rested a few guys. At the end of the day, it’s MLS and they are a good team and credit to them for making it a tough game."
On Román Torres:
"I think I have a really, really good tandem. I am hesitant to say the best in the league because it is too early, I think that would be unfair to them. I think they are working on it. As you look through this year and into next year, I will be able to answer that question a little bit better for you. I like Román because you saw that one play where he steps 10 yards into the midfield and wins that ball. He is aggressive in nature…I think the give and take of the two of them is the start of a good combination."
SOUNDERS FC DEFENDER CHAD MARSHALL
Overall thoughts on the game and the difference from Sunday’s game:
"Yeah obviously Sunday was an emotional game, huge win for us, I don’t think tonight was our best soccer by any means, but we wre able to grind it out and get a huge three points at this point in the year and we need to win our home games and we did that tonight."
On taking this hard fought win and looking forward to Sunday’s game:
"Yeah obviously it’s a Western Conference opponent and we want three points and it’s another huge game. It’s been a huge week for us and we are hoping to finish off the right way and you know make it a memorable one."
On the play of Andreas Ivanschitz and the praise he deserves for his services:
"That’s his game, that’s what he’s known for, he serves a great ball. Fortunately I was able to get on the end of it. Obvioulsy it helps having Roman [Torres] in there too, another big dude, so it’s been good if we continue to make good runs we can capitilze on that."
SOUNDERS FC GOALKEEPER STEFAN FREI
On not overlooking a team like Chicago:
"They come into our house and there is still a lot of quality on their side, some guys that like to cheat up top and it makes it a dangerous game. I’m very excited that we were able to get the win because it makes that LA win count. If we don’t take care of business today we waste that great result and that great effort we put in in LA. Super excited about that and keeping the train rolling."
On the defending of the entire team:
"It was good. I think we’ve gotten more comfortable defending leads now and it also shows that towards the ends of games when we go up for corners to take some time off the clock – just a bit more mature. Early in the season at times we would go up a goal and almost shrink a little bit in confidence, if you will. I think I sense the opposite now, I see that we grow and we think, ‘Okay, we can get another one possibly that we are in control of the game so to speak.’ That’s a good thing and something we need to build on."
On the frantic last couple of minutes:
"Obvioulsy they are going to throw the kitchen sink at us. The goal is to bend and not break, which we’ve done a couple of times now. That’s good. Really happy with the performance of all the guys in front right now."
On a possible sigh of relief now that they are above the playoff line:
"For me, no. To be honest I have not been looking at the standings for the whole season because when you’re losing games you know where you are finding yourselves in the standings. It’s nice to know that we’re stringing together results and kind of sense, ‘Okay, we are going up and going in the right direction, but by no means can we let off the pedal at this point.’ It would be the worst thing for us to do because we have worked hard to give ourselves a chance to get into the playoffs. Now we really have to make sure that hard work counts and we keep going now because it’s not over."
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER ANDREAS IVANSCHITZ
On the match:
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, especially after the hard game down in LA. You could see in the beginning that we had some heavy legs. We played very slow. We didn’t make smart decisions, but at the end of the day all of we wanted was the three points [and] to win this game. We did that and we are very happy about that."
On the play where Chad Marshall scored:
"Those are the moments and situations [that] we train every week. We know that we have big guys on our team that are very, very good with their head, like Chad, Román, a couple of other guys and Nelson [Valdez] from the bench. We have to take advantage of it. Nico and I, we always try to deliver the ball well. Those guys like Chad and Román do the rest.
On how his role in the attack has changed with Clint Dempsey ruled out for the season:
"Not very much to be honest. Obviously with Nico in the team we have a very creative player, a very creative guy. He has got very good vision. He plays very, very good balls behind the lines. For my part, I always try to make those deep runs and support Jordan [Morris] at times and give some good crosses. In general my play is the same, with or without Clint."
On whether tonight’s result is just as important as the Galaxy game:
"Definitely. That was a massive, massive win for us, a very important win for us. We were very happy about the game in LA: how we played there, we scored four goals and the way we played was fantastic. But you come home and you know that you face a team with their back against the wall, and you could see that they are also to play good soccer. So every game in the MLS is difficult, every game is important to us. We were focused and we were ready for this game, but as I said before at times we head heavy legs [and] we didn’t make good decisions. That was the reason why only scored one goal today."
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER NICOLÁS LODEIRO (THROUGH TRANSLATOR)
On the win over Chicago:
"Well first [of all], thank you and good night. It was a difficult match but the most important thing tonight was to win. We did not play that well, we didn’t play like we wanted to play, but the most important part was to win given the number of games that remain to play."
On the quality of Andreas Ivanschitz’s set pieces:
"Luckily we have players that send the ball really well. Andreas can kick it really well and prepare the set up really well. He brought us the result. The good thing is that it also happened in the last match, so it’s good when the things that we practice we can make it work."
On his emotions receiving the yellow card knowing that he would be suspended:
"It was naïve on my part. I didn’t want the other player to play the ball fast so I placed myself in the middle. He was smart [and] I was annoyed with myself, but sometimes it happens. I was worried because I knew that the fifth yellow would keep me away from the next game, but I need to learn from these mistakes."
On the upcoming match against Vancouver:
"It will be a difficult game [because] both teams need to win. They need to win and they will play at home. Same with us, [in that] we will play to win so it’s going to be difficult. We need to play smart and be really focused through the 90 minutes."
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER OSVALDO ALONSO
On what the win says about Seattle’s defense and the confidence of the team:
"Well like I said we come here and we win at home. Every game we have to play our best to win the game, that’s why we’re here. It wasn’t our best game but we walk away with the result."
On Nico Lodeiro’s suspension changes his role and the setup of the team:
"We’ve got a few days to work on it, it’s going to be tough for us [and] we’ll miss Nico [Lodeiro], but it is what it is. But we have to prepare and focus for Vancouver."
On the preparation for the upcoming match against Vancouver:
"Well first, we are very happy to grab the victory here today and be in position for the playoffs, and just very happy that we could win."
CHICAGO FIRE HEAD COACH VELJKO PAUNOVIC
On the match:
"First, I want to wish Clint Dempsey a full recovery as soon as possible. I think he’s very important for this country, for the soccer here and for the Sounders. That’s our first wish. On the game, I’m really disappointed and sad for our guys because we did a huge job to play against one of the best teams the way we wanted to play. I think the game plan went well, but unfortunately we conceded that goal. It didn’t happen too many times this year on set pieces. Like I said, it’s especially disappointing because our guys played with pride today. We played very consistent and I think we had our opportunities. We need to convert better. I know it’s late in the season now, but that’s what we expect of our team. To have the mentality that we play every game to the end. The positive thing is Seattle, in the end, was asking for the time, which is not easy to do here. I know that as a coach and I know it now as a player – it’s not easy to play here when they’re nervous in the last five or 10 minutes. But, of course, they’re a great team and had their opportunities, which we conceded. I think we fought well in order to defend."
On David Accam’s play tonight:
"I know that he can do better. He has some more to give, but he did well, like the rest of the team. We always want more from our guys. We always demand more because we know that they can give it. As I said, in the same way as the rest of the team, he was consistent in working for the team and he was trying to score goals, which is very important for a striker."
On how difficult it is to prepare for the size of Chad Marshall and Román Torres:
"I think it’s part of the game. We play against many guys of their size in our league so it’s not an issue if we have the right defensive attitude. We defend in zone so everyone has to be very alert, very prepared to react and cover his zone. And when the man comes into your zone, you have to defend one-on-one. I think [the goal] is the only play where we missed and that was enough for the winning goal. But, as I said, it’s not an issue."
On pressing high after the Sounders scored:
"I think we did a good job. As I said, we wanted to press them to stop the progression through the midfield to get the balls to Lodeiro and Morris. We knew at some point they were going to start playing long balls and we were ready for that. We did a very good job in transitions. Every time we recovered the ball, we were fast in trying to get to the final third and convert the opportunity of playing…in some situations three-v-two or four-v-three. And I think we did well in everything, except the last pass in the final third we missed. More than anything, I think we had a couple of good opportunities in the end. David Accam had two, which could be better converted."
CHICAGO FIRE MIDFIELDER ARTURO ALVAREZ
On playing with pride in these last few games:
"I think playing with pride is the most important thing of all. I think our chances of making the playoffs with this loss isn’t there now. We have to play for pride. Every game that we go in, we have to go in with the mentality to win the game, regardless if the playoffs are out of the picture already. It’s a game and we have to represent our club to the best of the ability that we can."
On how the offense is clicking:
"You know the last few games we have had a lot of opportunities. Unfortunately on some games we have not taken advantage of those opportunities and that has hurt us…Today was going to be a tough game. We knew that Seattle was going to give it their all. They are pushing for the playoff spot and they are at home. Today didn’t go our way, but like you said we play with a lot of pride and that is all we can at this moment."
On playing in Seattle:
"Even now, especially, they have turned their season around and they have their momentum going their way. Obviously the crowd is always behind their team. It is always great to play here and so they have that extra motivation for every home game. It is part of the game. I think it was a solid performance for us and I think it was tough for them."
CHICAGO FIRE MIDFIELDER RAZVAN COCIS
On tonight’s match:
"I think it was a good game for us even though we didn’t have a good result. We gave away a goal and then we tried very hard to get back. Everyone did a good job and a good work. I can say we had a good game."
On pressing Seattle to limit chances:
"We tried to stay compact and let them play out of the back with their central defender. We tried to block them in the middle and once they played back we wanted to press them. I think it worked. In the first half they had the possession, but I think we did a good job being close and having short lines and being close to each other, recovering the ball and having a counter. I think we could have scored."
On playing with pride in these last few matches:
"Well it is very important. It’s important for each person, for each player, for each staff. We need to prove that this is not the place we should be. We have had a lot of good games this season. This is where we are now. I think the last impression will count a lot. It will count for us in this season and the next season. Individually and as a group we just have to keep going."