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Chicago Fire vs. Sounders, recap: Ugly, ugly, ugly

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The referee did Sounders no favors, but they need to look themselves in mirror after second half capitulation.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

This won’t be one the Seattle Sounders will want to dwell on too long. After a strong first half in which the Sounders could rightly feel hard done to go in tied 1-1, the game unraveled about midway through the second half. By the time the dust had settled, the Sounders were looking at their first multi-goal loss of the year and most lopsided defeat under Brian Schmetzer, as the Chicago Fire came away with a 4-1 win on Saturday.

The match started off ominously when Nicolas Lodeiro’s 3rd minute shot took a deflection and hit the crossbar. It was the 11th time this year the Sounders had hit the woodwork. A few minutes later, Clint Dempsey got an open look at a far-post header, but put it high.

Then disaster really struck in the 25th minute. Tony Alfaro appeared to cleanly win a tackle on Nemanja Nikolic, but referee Nima Saghafi pointed to the spot. As if that weren’t bad enough, Stefan Frei stopped David Accam’s attempt only to have Saghafi call for a re-take after he judged players from both teams to have encroached. Nikolic converted on the second attempt.

Dempsey, though, found the equalizer just three minutes later on a beautiful left-footed curler from about 22 yards out. From there, the Sounders seemed to get the match going their way. Jordan Morris even had a pretty strong shout for a penalty — getting taken down inside the box — but it was instead ruled a corner kick.

The Sounders probably went into the half feeling a bit hard-done not to actually be leading but the 1-1 tie left them in strong position.

They were unable to do anything with the momentum. Accam put the Fire ahead in the 60th minute, finding space in the box and finishing well inside the near post. The wheels really came off shortly thereafter. Clearly buoyed by the lead, the Fire added a third through Luis Solignac in the 73rd minute and a fourth in the 76th minute through Nikolic.

Just to add salt to the wound, Joevin Jones — who was already having a particularly rough outing — picked up a couple yellow cards in a two-minute span to earn himself a suspension for the Sounders next match. The Sounders would probably have a decent case to challenge the second — Jones didn’t seem to do anything aside from try to box out an opponent — but they may not be inclined to push their luck as Jones looks like a player in need of a day off.

The loss leaves the Sounders on 10 points through 10 matches, their worst start in franchise history. They’ll have their first chance to try to turn this around on Wednesday when they visit Sporting Kansas City.