Blog

Seattle Sounders FC

13 August 10:16 am

Looking back on losses is hardly fun to do, though it's an important exercise -- a reminder of what was and what might have been.

The Fire and Sounders have battled plenty in league play over the years but its Open Cup gameday and the two teams met in the 2011 Final.

A Fire side in the midst of a second half of the season playoff push (not unlike this year), heroically navigated their way to the 2011 final in Seattle. Having to balance important games on either side of the Open Cup clash, the team went to CenturyLink Field as underdogs (just like tonight), going up against the Sounders without the ailing Sebastian Grazzini.

The gameplan was sound enough. Marco Pappa, now a Sounder, had a decent chance for the Fire during the first half while the Men in Red survived two Seattle attempts off the bar. Finally the dam broke as Fredy Montero pounced on a rebound before Osvaldo Alonso iced the game late.

Re-watch the match:

I know you're asking why I made you sit through that. That's because even in defeat, Fire supporters rallied around the team following the match, with nearly every Fire fan in Seattle consoling AND congratulating the team at the hotel bar following the match. It made it all more digestable and remains one of my favorite Fire memories of all-time.

Since you did go through that, here's another video you'll enjoy more:

08 June 12:04 am

Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop

 

On general feeling of the team heading into the World Cup break

 

“Points-wise, not great. Spirit-wise, I thought tonight was good. Difficult circumstances with the red card and all the stuff that went on tonight. What I liked about the team tonight: we fought, and we stuck up for each other. That's the positive out of it. The negative: we didn't get a result at home, obviously. Frustration is probably the word I would say right now.”

 

On if he had saw the reason for Obafemi Martins' sending-off

 

“No, I didn't, I haven't looked at a replay. I haven't seen it yet.”

 

On expecting officiating controversies

 

“I don't know. I thought both teams came out to try and win the game, which is important. Some decisions for us didn't go the right way, and you get frustrated with all that stuff; it spills over to your play a little bit. I'm not going to fault the effort of our players at all; we're not quite able to figure it out yet. We have good moments; we have patterns of play that are good, we look like we're a good side, and then we falter and get punished. It's frustrating. I hate to use the word, I keep saying it, but the balance is not quite there yet. No excuses with the three games in the week, but it's never easy. But I thought we kept going until the end; we could have gotten something out of the game. Obviously that third goal killed the game a little bit. Quincy [Amarikwa] had a great chance I think at 2-1, and then Juan [Luis Anangono] had a good chance at 3-2. That's football. That's the tough part about it. And I'm sitting there just frustrated, and you guys are fans of us, as frustrated as you are; I'm sitting there going, ‘why can't we get it sorted out?’ But signs are good, young guys are doing okay. Harry [Shipp] did good tonight, so hopefully we can turn the corner.”

 

On creating chances and goals in play

 

“We created some good chances. If you look at the experience on their team, it's a pretty experienced team; and we're a little bit younger and naive, and all the guys we have out...there's no excuses. But I'm not going to fault my guys; I thought they fought right to the end, tried to get something out of the game, but just couldn't quite get something out of it. I'm not going to turn to the excuse of ‘we got guys out,’ because, I thought the players that played tonight played well for us. Big, important thing is, take the punishment, if you like, and move on. You have to. We have an Open Cup game next, hopefully we can get through that round; I think there's another round of Open Cup, and then we get to get back into MLS. So we're still in the picture, which is always good; although we have to start winning games, obviously. But the progression of the team playing-wise, I thought, showed some fight tonight, which is important.”

 

On the penalty call and ensuing red card against Fire defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado

 

“Anytime you go with two feet, it alarms referees for some reason. I think that Jhon had no other opportunity to block the ball, and to go with his feet sort of showing. It didn't catch the player; give a penalty kick, but don't give a sending-off. Or give a sending-off, but no penalty kick, whatever you want to do, but I just think the double thing was just, for me, not a great decision. I haven't seen it, but it looked like Jhon was just trying to block the ball; it wasn't malicious, it was low, and it looked like he was trying to get his feet sorted out. But, again, the rules are what they are, so I can't really argue with it. But I struggled a little bit all night with the officiating. I thought it was a little bit one-way, but that's my opinion.”

 

On the World Cup break serving as a chance to get healthy

 

“You have two main guys out, Patrick Nyarko and Mike Magee are out at the moment, so you have to help them get ready for play coming in the next couple of weeks. We have the Open Cup, which is in our break. Alex is not 100%; obviously played a little bit tonight, but he's not close to what he can play like at the moment. So we have a little bit of time to get our guys healthy and hopefully start the next MLS game out with a win, because we need to start winning, obviously, to have any chance to do well this year. But I think the emergence of the young players is my focus, and I think they're doing okay. We're not wishing the season away at all; I make sure that we're ready to play each game and ready to go. I thought again, we didn't flop and buckle under in this game, which we could have done against a good side. Each game we've played, other than maybe a couple, we've been right there, right in the match, right and ready to go; but the naiveté of our team, and it's not a slight on them, it's just reality, we can't figure it out quite yet. It's frustrating as a coach, and the players are frustrated. I think that for us, it's making sure that we build on it, and make sure we get positive with it.”

 

Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire Midfielder

 

On tonight’s loss:

 

“This may be the toughest so far.  You might want to put it up there with the Real Salt Lake game, but they came at us – Seattle didn’t.  They were content with their lead waiting for us, but somehow they still got the better of us which is difficult.”

 

On where the team goes from here heading into the break:

 

“We have to decide.  Everyone has to go home this week and figure out if they’re content with where we are, think about if they’re content coming in after games saying, ‘Oh well, we did alright – we didn’t score or we didn’t finish that chance,’ or they can make a difference, they can make a change. I don’t know what happened around the league, but we’re at the bottom of the conference – we have to make a move and we have to stop being content with half chances and one goal losses at home.”

 

On the team’s effort:

 

“It’s not the effort, it’s not the effort.  It’s critical moments in the game when players make a difference or don’t make a difference, and at the moment we’re not making that difference.

 

On how to make that difference:

 

“We can’t be content.  We can’t come in and say, ‘We did alright.’  There’s no attendance award, we have to come and we have to do something.”

 

On the goals for the remainder of the season:

 

“I think the goal is always to make the playoffs.  We can’t come in and say we’re going to be the MLS champs - we have to work for it, we have to fight for it.  We have to fight to get into the playoffs period.  Then you can move on and rewrite your goals.  At the moment - sure we’ve hung with teams, sure we’ve played well against top competition, but we haven’t gotten over that hump.  Like I said it’s not about sprinting harder, running faster or jumping higher, it’s not about that because we do that.  It’s about the critical moments when we have to make a difference, that’s what we have to focus on.”

 

On the Open Cup as an opportunity to turn things around:

 

“Winning is contagious, I think.  You catch it and you want it.  We haven’t won, it’s almost like we enjoy coming in and being content with what’s going on.  So, sure we win the first round and we play another game before we play a MLS game, so sure we can get the wheels moving, we can get guys healthy and can start pushing on.  But you can see we’re in games.  It’s not about personnel; it’s just about those little things.  Against different competition in the Open Cup maybe we can sharpen those edges.”

 

Quincy Amarikwa, Chicago Fire Forward

 

On the chemistry with Harry Shipp:

 

“I think Harry and I are building good chemistry up-top. It’s translating on the field and it’s turning into goals.  We just need to figure it out as a team now, making sure we can prevent teams from scoring multiple goals on us so we can come away with three points.  Tonight we can build from it, learn from it and move on.”

 

Harry Shipp, Chicago Fire Forward

 

On play leading up to the goal, scoring and the result:

 

“I was trying to show up in places to find the ball, but it was hard.  I was getting frustrated, I think everyone was getting frustrated, with our lack of keeping it.  Right before the first goal I started feeling a little more comfortable, kind of feeling the touch, and then I hit a good shot.  After that the momentum switched and I think we were back in the game.  In the second half we gave up that third goal, which killed us, but I think that besides that we really kept the ball, we possessed the ball.  We did things we know we can do. We had a chance to tie it up at 2-2 and to make it 3-3, but unfortunately it didn’t go in. I scored two goals, but I’m not going to be happy unless I score two more and we win 4-3.  That’s the difference in this feeling and difference in New York when we won 5-4.”

 

On the chippy play during the game:

 

“I think we have to keep our focus. There was a lot of extracurricular stuff going on after every tackle, there were people complaining, but I think you just have to keep your head and focus.  I think we did a good job in the second half of just moving the ball and playing simple – keeping the ball and interchanging especially through the midfield.  It was hard for them to keep the ball.  I think if we had done that all 90 minutes it might be a different story.”

 

Seattle Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid

 

On the match:

 

“You know, I thought we made the game harder than we needed to make it.  Obviously we are in a good position with a two goal lead playing a man up, and then we get a man thrown out.  At that point, we gave up a goal, you know, I think Shipp took both his goals really well, he finished them well, one left footed, one right footed,  and they were good finishes, but they were plays we should have stopped a bit earlier.  Hats off to him and his finishes, so it made the game tight.  Kept it tight all the way through.”

 

What changed when the Fire scored, making it two to one:

 

“It picked up their spirit.  They are obviously playing at home so they want to make a good impression in front of their fans and they want to do well.  We’ve had a good run, played well, and we have a few guys that are banged up out there and so guys are just thinking of making it through.  Now we have a 5 day break.  Maybe they were thinking of that.”

 

Seattle Sounders Midfielder Marco Pappa

 

On the physical match:

 

“I am pretty happy with the group.  We were good tonight.  We played a strong game.  Red cards and many fouls but at the end of the day we have the three points.  We are pretty happy about that.”

 

On his return to Chicago:

 

“I was excited to see to see old faces, old friends, old fans.  It was for sure a lot of feelings on the pitch but Chicago has been a big part of my career.”

 

Seattle Sounders Midfielder Lamar Neagle

 

On his game winning shot:

 

“It has been something I’ve been trying to do a little bit more, have some composure in the box, that kind of show.  When it was coming down, I did want to hit it first time but it wasn’t bouncing right.  I didn’t want to rush it.  Got it down and then tried to curl it in the back.”

 

On the funny bounce it took before he struck the ball:

 

“I was trying not to panic.  It took a long time to come down the first time, then it bounced weird, and just took it off my knee and tried to settle it as much as I could before I took a shot.”

 

On the Fire goalkeeper being screened:

 

“Yes, I think he was screened.  It was definitely behind the defender so he wouldn’t have been, or he didn’t see it before it was going in.  Sean Johnson is a great goalkeeper so luckily the defender was there to block his view.”

07 June 11:02 pm

Select shots from the Fire's loss to the Sounders presented by MiAllstate.

 

06 June 3:39 pm

As the Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders clash Saturday at Toyota Park, more than a few players will be lining up against their former teammates. A photographic trip down memory lane...

Drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2005, Chad Barrett made 82 Regular Season appearances for the Fire before being traded to Toronto FC in exchange for the rights to Brian McBride in mid-2008. Barrett has bounced around the league, playing with TFC, LA Galaxy and New England Revolution before settling in Seattle this season.

The former Fire first round draft pick has performed well in Clint Dempsey's USMNT absence, scoring a goal in each of the last two games for Seattle. 

Marco Pappa makes his first return to Toyota Park since being sold to Dutch Eredivisie side Hereenveen in August 2012. Things didn't work out for Pappa in Holland and he returned to MLS this season where Seattle grabbed him via allocation (though the Fire did make inquiries into bringing him back to Chicago). Pappa sits tied with Piotr Nowak for fourth on the club's all-time goal list (26) and is best remembered for some absolutely highlight reel strikes during his time in Chicago, one of which won the 2010 MLS Goal of the Year.

The Fire's first round selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Anibaba was a starter nearly his entire time in Chicago, appearing in 96 MLS matches over the course of three seasons. The defender was traded to Seattle the night before this year's MLS SuperDraft but has appeared in just five matches for the Sounders so far this season. 

Though he's a Sounder now, we will always remember his 2011 Chicago Fire Goal of the Year strike, "THROUGH THE GUISE OF SMOKE!"

Prior to being one piece of the deal that came to Chicago in the Anibaba trade, Patrick Ianni spent five seasons in Seattle after being acquired from the Houston Dynamo in 2009. The UCLA product made 83 MLS appearances and won three straight U.S. Open Cup titles with Seattle prior to January's swap. Ianni has provided depth for the Fire in defense this season and likely would have a few more appearances if not for a bout of sickness this past week.

The other piece to the Anibaba trade, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is the only Fire player other than Sean Johnson to play every minute of every game and has likely been the best on the back line in 2014. Like Ianni, Hurtado joined Seattle in 2009, appearing in 108 matches, helping the Sounders to three straight Open Cup titles -- he even played 90 minutes in Seattle's 2-0 defeat of the Fire in the 2011 final. 

"I'm excited to play against my former team," Hurtado told Chicago-Fire.com Friday. "I have only words of gratitude to the people at the Sounders, the fans, my friends back there. I spent five happy years there, my boys were born in Seattle, so it is a special place. Tomorrow is a new change. I'm here in Chicago, I play for the people here, the fans that live and die with us and we have an important game against Seattle before the World Cup."

06 June 8:15 am

After picking up a second draw in four days, the Fire head back from Denver with their heads held high after collecting a good road point. The last match before the World Cup break will offer a considerable challenge as league-leading Seattle Sounders, a team in good spirits after a 4-0 drubbing of RSL last weekend, come to Toyota Park Saturday night (LIVE on My50 at 7:30pm CT). Here are some things to keep an eye on from a tactical perspective…

Limiting the involvement of Chad Barrett – stopping the supply to the former Fire striker

In the absence of Clint Dempsey, former Fire striker Chad Barrett has stepped up and performed extremely well for the Sounders. Despite his size and the fact the club have Kenny Cooper in their ranks, coach Sigi Schmid has deployed Barrett as a target striker in recent matches to great effect.

Barrett seems to have modeled his new found role after San Jose Earthquakes striker Steven Lenhart, often using his head or chest to cushion the ball in the direction of his fellow attackers such as Obi Martins and Lamar Nagle. Barrett has also chipped in with two goals in his last two matches for the Sounders.

Barrett is deceptively good in the air too, and with players like Brad Evans and Marco Pappa putting in crosses, the Fire need to be aware of where Barrett is on the field at all times. Against RSL last week, Barrett often found space by peeling off and making runs to the back post undetected. He was almost found a number of occasions and but for some better crosses/through balls, he might have a lot more than one goal.

Similar to players like Marco Pappa and Justin Mapp, the Fire fan base is openly divided about Barrett’s contributions as a Fire player. One thing’s for sure, he would like nothing more than contributing to the Fire’s downfall on Saturday night.

Limiting the Sounders set piece opportunities – not allowing Pineda and Pappa to put in dangerous deliveries

Though the Fire have improved greatly at defending set pieces, the Sounders will give them a stern test on Saturday evening.

With the twin threats of Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa, Seattle posses two of the best dead ball takers in MLS. The Fire will also need to deal with players like Brad Evans, Zack Scott and Chad Marshall, defenders who are very good in the air.

On set pieces, the Sounders usually have two routines. The first is to whip the ball into the box and look for someone like Marshall or Barrett to get a head on it. The second is to float the ball into the box and look to attack the second ball after a Sounders player heads it back across the box in the direction of where the free kick came from.

The Fire gave up 13 fouls in Colorado and were very aggressive against Robbie Keane last Saturday at Toyota Park. The Men in Red have made a number of mental mistakes on set pieces this season so limiting the number of fouls in the Fire’s defensive third will be critical on Saturday night.  

Targeting Seattle’s central defensive pairing – keeping the ball on the ground and using our attacking pace

With what the Sounders central defenders have in experience and aerial ability, they certainly lack in pace – something the Fire should be looking to target on Saturday night.

Marshall, Scott and Djimi Traore are all very accomplished defenders but aren’t always comfortable in 1v1 situations, especially against an attacker with pace. With this in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank Yallop goes with a lot of pace and trickery when choosing his attacking players for this match.

An attacking midfield trio of Benji Joya, Harry Shipp and Grant Ward with Quincy Amarikwa playing ahead of them would be very difficult for the Seattle defense. All four players are very good in 1v1 situations and Ward and Amarikwa aren’t afraid to take players on.

On Saturday night, the Fire should be focusing on attacking Seattle centrally and if the players mentioned can pick up the ball in the space between Osvaldo Alonso and the Sounders central defenders, it could result in the breakthrough.

Prediction: The Fire head into the World Cup break with another point – 1-1 with a goal from Benji Joya.

Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @irish_steve.

WATCH: MLSsoccer.com's Scouting Report: Fire vs. Sounders

16 May 2:04 pm

The Fourth Round draw for the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup occurred Friday morning at Soccer House in downtown Chicago and with MLS teams entering at this stage, the process was much more elaborate than the straight forward flips from last week’s Third Round draw.

Before I lay out how it unfolded, a few bullets to keep in mind…

  • I was incorrect in my earlier tweets and statements that a USL PRO affiliate could not be matched with its partner MLS club. I’m a busy guy and sometimes you just have to admit you’re not perfect, sorry!
  • The only affiliate relationship that needed to be separated for this draw was that of the LA Galaxy and LA Galaxy II who are both owned by the same party.
  • USL PRO side Orlando City and their PDL side Orlando City U-23s, are both in the tournament but could not be matched up at this stage as MLS teams must be matched with a lower league pairing.
  • Chivas USA was the only MLS club to not apply to host a Fourth Round Open Cup match.

With those done, I will underscore that the most important principle to keep in mind for how pairings are determined comes from Page 7 of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup Handbook. It states:

“After each Third Round pairing has been determined, each Division I (MLS) team entering in the Fourth Round will be matched geographically to play the winner of a specific Third Round pairing. Instances where a logical geographic fit doesn’t exist will be resolved by random selection."

Jeff Crandall attends the fourth round draw for the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Soccer House on May 16, 2014
As all business as a selfie can be prior to walking into Soccer House...

Upon arrival to Soccer House, Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller handed me a sheet of paper with four geographic groupings, plus a wild card pool. The most straightforward grouping was the top table which featured eight Third Round matchups across from eight MLS teams that made “a logical geographic fit” with those lower league pairings.

The pairings with the result of the coin flip are below. Teams that are not bolded either did not have a suitable home venue or didn’t apply to host (U.S. Soccer did not distinguish the reason on this sheet).

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X Brooklyn Italians SC (NPSL)/New York Cosmos (NASL)   New York Red Bulls (MLS)
  Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Indy Eleven (NASL) X Columbus Crew (MLS)
  RWB Adria (USASA)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP) X Chicago Fire (MLS)
  Minnesota United FC (NASL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA X Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
  Laredo Heat (PDL)/Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) X Houston Dynamo (MLS)
  NTX Rayados (USASA)/San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) X FC Dallas (MLS)
X Arizona United SC (USLP)/Oklahoma City Energy FC (USLP)   LA Galaxy (MLS)
  Fresno Fuego (PDL)/Sacramento Republic (USLP) X San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

For the local Fire fans, I was able to take OFFICIAL VIDEO documenting the Fire's winning coin flip:

The second grouping of matchups pooled three Northeast MLS sides with three lower league pairings. Of note here, Marstaller said that because the Harrisburg City Islanders and Baltimore Bohemians are about equidistant to D.C. United and Philadelphia Union, a flip off between the two sides would be done to determine which club would host the winner of that Third Round Matchup.

Based on alphabet, D.C. United was assigned heads and Philadelphia tails, with the Union winning. Because neither Harrisburg or Baltimore applied to host, no flip was necessary as hosting rights defaulted to the Union. 

LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS FLIP ASSIGNMENT
Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) D.C. United
Philadelphia Union
Heads
Tails

United's loss on their first flip resulted in them moving down to the next pairing of two lower league matchups where a similar flip had to occur between New York Greek American Atlas/Richmond Kickers and Reading United AC/Rochester Rhinos to determind who would be D.C.'s opponent.

FLIP ASSIGNMENT LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAM
Heads New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)
Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)
D.C. United
Tails

Again, determined by alphabet, the New York/Richmond matchup was assigned heads while the other was assigned tails and the coin again flipped to tails matching D.C. United with Reading/Rochester.

This moved New York/Richmond down to a matchup with the New England Revolution and then flips were done to determine the hosting rights for those two matchups with both lower league matchups winning with heads. For the purpose of clarity, here is how that final grouping looked:

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
  Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) N/A Philadelphia Union
X Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)   D.C. United
X New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)   New England Revolution

The third grouping was a product of Chivas USA being the only MLS club not to apply for hosting rights. Because of this, Marstaller needed to pair them with lower league matchups in which both clubs applied to host, of which there were two: Atlanta Silverbacks/Chattanooga FC (heads) and Charlotte Eagles/Carolina Railhawks (tails).

A coin flip was done to see who would host Chivas and landed tails giving Charlotte/Carolina the hosting rights. This pushed Atlanta/Chattanooga down to the very ending “Wild Card Pool”.

FLIP ASSIGNMENT LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAM
Heads Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)
Charlotte Eagles (USLP)/Carolina RailHawks (NASL)
Chivas USA
Tails

The fourth pool featured the PSA Elite/LA Galaxy II matchup paired against four MLS teams that were within geographical proximity. While both lower-league teams are based in Southern California, because PSA Elite also did not apply to host, Chivas USA could not be thrown into this group.

The most interesting part of the process Friday was the flip-off between four MLS clubs to determine who would play Galaxy II/PSA Elite.

Again determined by alphabet, Colorado/Portland and Real Salt Lake/Seattle Sounders did a preliminary flip. Both losers in that round (Portland & Real Salt Lake) were moved into the final Wild Card pairing, then Colorado and Seattle did a final flip, with Seattle winning again (which should keep Sigi Schmid somewhat happy) and Colorado also falling to the Wild Card group.

LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS
PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP) Colorado Rapids
Portland Timbers
Heads
Tails
Heads
Real Salt Lake
Seattle Sounders
Heads
Tails
Tails

One final flip was done to determine the hosting rights for that match with Galaxy II/PSA Elite winning and presumably, since PSA Elite did not apply to host, Sigi will be their biggest fan.

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP)   Seattle Sounders

After all the flips above were done, the Wild Card pool looked like the below table, with MLS clubs placed on the right according to alphabetical order. Because of the odd number of matchups, coin flips could not be used to determine who would play each other so Marstaller placed three slips of paper marked “A”, “B” and “C” into plain envelopes. As the matchup moved down from the initial Chivas USA grouping, Atlanta/Chattanooga was assigned “C” while the other two lower-league pairings were assigned “A” and “B” based on alphabetic order.

WILD CARD POOL
Letter LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS
A
B
C
Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP)
Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)
Colorado Rapids
Portland Timbers
Real Salt Lake

Marstaller then went down the alphabetic list of MLS sides and drew the slips of paper from the envelopes. When all three matchups had been finalized, final flips for hosting rights occurred, concluding the fourth round Open Cup draw. You can see how the envelopes were drawn and the winner of the flips below:

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
  Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP) X Colorado Rapids
X Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)   Portland Timbers
X Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)   Real Salt Lake

Following the draw, Marstaller said the published fourth round scenarios would not be accompanied Friday by match dates yet. This is because the Fourth Round has three possible match dates over an eight-day span. With USL PRO and the PDL, along with amateur sides having league games between the June 10-18 Fourth Round window, all clubs that have the potential to host a Fourth Round match will have the weekend to give their preferred hosting date before U.S. Soccer balances the already scheduled league games. Because of the logistical process, hosting dates are expected to be announced sometime next week. 

A comprehensive list of who won hosting coin flips can be found below.

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X Brooklyn Italians SC (NPSL)/New York Cosmos (NASL)   New York Red Bulls (MLS)
  Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Indy Eleven (NASL) X Columbus Crew (MLS)
  RWB Adria (USASA)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP) X Chicago Fire (MLS)
  Minnesota United FC (NASL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA X Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
  Laredo Heat (PDL)/Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) X Houston Dynamo (MLS)
  NTX Rayados (USASA)/San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) X FC Dallas (MLS)
X Arizona United SC (USLP)/Oklahoma City Energy FC (USLP)   LA Galaxy (MLS)
  Fresno Fuego (PDL)/Sacramento Republic (USLP) X San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
  Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) N/A Philadelphia Union
X Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)   D.C. United
X New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)   New England Revolution
N/A Charlotte Eagles (USLP)/Carolina RailHawks (NASL)   Chivas USA
X PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP)   Seattle Sounders
  Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP) X Colorado Rapids
X Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)   Portland Timbers
X Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)   Real Salt Lake

Thanks again to the U.S. Soccer staff for being great hosts once again!

04 February 8:07 am

The Numbers Game rolls on Tuesday with the latest contestants being the center back duo of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni, who were recently acquired from the Seattle Sounders in a trade that sent Jalil Anibaba the other way.

Let’s start with the Hurtado. The 29-year-old center back will continue to don the same #34 he wore for five seasons in Cascadia. Asked why he’s chosen a somewhat “off the beaten path” soccer number, Hurtado explained 34 was the number he was given when trialing with AC Milan in early 2009.

“The opportunity was a special one and it’s stayed with me ever since,” he told Chicago-Fire.com last week.

Though 34 isn’t the most common soccer number, two Fire players have worn it before. Former Trinidad & Tobago international Osei Telesford was the club’s #34 in 2007 while Austin Washington wore it from 2008-2009.

Meanwhile, Ianni has chosen to suit up wearing the #6 for the Fire this season. Interestingly, Ianni and Anibaba weren’t just in part swapped for each other but they’ve also taken one another’s number at their new club as the former Fire defender will suit up as Seattle’s #4 this season.

Asked about the choice of #6, Ianni said, “I just wanted a lower, defender’s number,” but the only two digits that fit the criteria for the Fire were #2 and #6.

Althought the #2 is free for anyone to choose, Ianni says he took into account the legacy of assistant coach C.J. Brown’s 13 years wearing  #2 for the Men in Red and the fact that it’s only been worn one other time for 27 minutes by another Fire player (Wells Thompson in 2012). 

C.J. Brown wore the number 2 for the Chicago Fire for 13 seasons from 1998-2010

In the end, the choice was simple.

“I have a ton of respect for what C.J. did here wearing that number and what that means to Fire supporters. The six shirt suits me just fine.”

QUESTION: Ianni becomes the ninth player in Fire history to wear #6 for the Men in Red. How many of the other eight can you name? (SCROLL BELOW FOR THE ANSWER).

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWER: Brian Bates (1998), Tom Soehn (1998-2000), Sergi Daniv (2001), Kelly Gray (2002-2005), Brandon Prideaux (2008-2009), Julio Martinez (2010), Peter Lowry (2010), Jalil Anibaba (2011-2013).

08 September 1:57 am
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire at Seattle Sounders FC
CenturyLink Field – September 7, 2013
 
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
 
On the outcome of the game
 
“I felt the team played well - played really well - and definitely deserved to walk away with points from here but that’s not how it goes sometimes, so we have to regroup. I think [we can] learn from some little things that we could do better and just regroup fast because we have to move on to the next game in Toronto. There’s a lot of games coming up and we just have to move on.”
 
On the own goal
 
“It happens.You’re running behind sometimes, the ball comes [...] those things happen. I just felt, I think, that the team put a lot into the game. We had some very good moments, created chances, and it’s a little disappointing right now not to walk away with points, but that’s how it is. We have to regroup and like I said just get ready for the next game now.”
 
On why Mike Magee did not play in the second half
 
“He had a groin situation, you know. With the amount of games coming up, and being on turf this game and stuff […] He tweaked it a little […] It could have been worse. He came out, hopefully we got it in time and hopefully he’ll be ready for Wednesday.”
 
On his game plan for the second half
 
“Obviously we talked about that in transition and just trying to be positive. We wanted the ball back, looked to play forward, even after dribble, look to go at them right away. We wanted to make sure we switched the point of attack always because they’re pretty compact and they over-rotate and spaces would be out wide. And when it wasn’t on, just making sure that we were good with the ball, just keeping it and making sure that the guys were moving off the ball and giving options for the guy with it. So, basically that’s it. Being on the road, and in a place like this, it’s never easy. I thought they played well. You feel for the group because they put a lot into the game but I think it’s going to make us better for the next one. We just have to move on and be ready for Wednesday now.”
 
On Magee’s goal
 
 “The whole combo, the play was fantastic. Dilly [Duka] coming inside, playing the through ball. We had some very good moments where we were able to combine and play. I think when we started the game and we played to feet and we had good movement off the ball, we were very dangerous. And we scored a great goal.”
 
On inserting Daniel Paladini late in the match
 
“I just think Chris ran hard and we needed some fresh legs at that point. Danny coming in, I think provided that, because I just felt we needed some fresh legs late in the game, with seven minutes left.”
 
On Lamar Neagle’s goal
 
“I think with that, anything that comes in the box […] I think the position was good. I think it’s more from the baseline. I think you have to be aware of where the ball is, both references and see the movement of the players. Sometimes the ball just pops right there, the guy was in a good position and he scored. It’s going to happen, you know?”
 
On the team’s tendency to give up late goals
 
“It comes down to little things, details. I think if we score the second goal, it’s different. Maybe we walk away. We had the chances, we didn’t. I feel like sometimes things will happen in a game like that.”
 
Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire Goalkeeper
 
On the game
 
“I thought it was hard fought. I thought we played actually a really good game.  I was proud of the guys, we really battled.  I thought over the course of 90 minutes—Seattle’s not an easy place to play—we made it difficult for them.  I think they were fortunate to come away with a victory at the end.  I think we deserved at least a point out of that game.  It’s a bit unfortunate for us given the way that we played on the night but it’s just one of those things.  We have to regroup and refocus and get ready for Toronto on Wednesday.  It’s going to be a short week for us so the good thing is we get back on the training pitch and we have another game in a few days and we’re able to get back to it.”
 
On the penalty kick save
 
“I was just trying to make a play and save it.  It’s just one of those things where you get in there and you try to react and make a good decision.  I think you can do one of two things—you can make your mind up or try to read and react and I just did the best I could to save a PK.”
 
On the own goal
 
“It just happened in the course of the game.”
06 September 7:58 am

The MLS Team Writers Union continues to grow and so I thought, why not reach out and get my counterpart's takes on relevant questions surrounding their team in the leadup to matches...

In today's Three Questions, I go old school with one of the longest tenured Team Writers in MLS (and doppelganger match for Rob Riggle), Sounders FC's Matt Gaschk...

Jeff Crandall: With Wednesday night's victory over Chivas USA, the Sounders continue to be the hottest team in MLS having won six of their last seven matches.  What has been the main contribution to the recent success?

Matt Gaschk: The greatest difference over the last seven matches has been the commitment on the defensive side of the ball.  With four shutouts in the last seven matches, the defense has jumped to tops in the West, allowing just 1.04 goals per game, but it has been much more than just the back four.  The defensive spark has come from all over the field and the team finally seems to have clicked into place and pulling in the same direction. 

With so many changes to the roster over the off-season, it took a lot of time for people to find their roles.  Now, even though they have yet to play at full strength, they have been able to find different ways to win games because the core of the team has kept them on the right path.

JC: How much do the international absences of Eddie Johnson, Clint Dempsey and the injury to Brad Evans effect Seattle's chances for three points on Saturday?

MG: Dempsey has been a tremendous boost for the team – both on the field and in the locker room, where he has helped re-energize a group that was already driven to succeed.  However, his addition has been a boost to what was already a solid team, so while losing him means less talent on the field, it doesn’t necessarily mean a loss in the team dynamic. 

Johnson has been on fire of late with three goals and one assist in his last four matches, and he has proven to be highly important to Seattle’s success.  When he is engaged, he is among the more lethal finishers in the league. 

Without him, Seattle turns heavily to Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle.  Martins has been on the shelf over the last month with an ankle injury, but Neagle has stepped up when asked to, scoring six goals – including four game-winners – this season. 

The loss of Evans, if he is unable to play, takes greater effect when Seattle loses its depth. He can play so many different roles for the team, not the least of which is as a coach on the field, that when he is available it is almost as though Sigi Schmid’s roster has additional players on it. 

Servando Carrasco has filled in in the middle of midfield and Marc Burch has provided cover on the left side, so there are players available to fill roles, but it is the depth beyond those spots that has thinned with injuries to Shalrie Joseph and Steve Zakuani.

JC: Obafemi Martins has been out for nearly a month with an ankle injury but seems to be on the comeback trail.  What has the Nigerian DP added for the Sounders this season and is there a chance he returns Saturday?

MG: After the 2012 season, Sounders FC ownership vowed to find their Robbie Keane.  They sought a player with high levels of European success who is still driven to succeed at a high level when presented with the new challenge of playing in MLS.  Martins fit that bill and, while he may not be on the MVP-caliber scoring clip that Keane has seen this season, he has provided a world-class striker that not only scores his own remarkable goals, but also creates space for his teammates to find the scoreboard as well.

Although he has been in and out of the lineup with injuries, his seven goals and three assists in just 15 appearances have been an offensive boost.  He has yet to take the field with Dempsey – and won’t this weekend while Dempsey is away on international duty – but when he does, it will make for one of the strongest attacks in MLS.