The Sounders will have little time to enjoy their hard-fought road victory Saturday in Chicago. Wednesday, they play host to the defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy, a team they haven't beaten since 2009
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Asked what it was like to play 90 minutes for the first time this season, Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson had a one-word answer:
He wasn’t alone in that regard after Seattle gutted out a hard-fought 2-1 road victory against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. But the Sounders will get little time to rest as they are home against the star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday. Seattle will look to end a winless streak of six games (0-5-1) in the head-to-head rivalry.
“We want to measure ourselves against Los Angeles — they are the defending MLS Cup champions,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “They’ve got all the star power. They’ve got (Robbie) Keane, they’ve got (David) Beckham, they’ve got (Landon) Donovan. They’ve got a good team and they’ve got quality. But our team has quality as well. It’s going to be a great match.”
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It could be the biggest test so far this season for the Sounders FC defense, which has been the backbone to the team’s franchise-best 4-1-1 start.
Even as the offense — affected by injuries and roster shuffling — has struggled to capture its league-leading scoring pace from 2011, the defense has allowed just three goals in six games. One of those was a penalty kick and another came in spectacular fashion Saturday when Fire midfielder Marco Pappa, with the help of the wind, scored directly off a corner kick in the 89th minute.
“The last goal we’ve let in from the run of the play was in the Toronto game,” said midfielder Brad Evans, referring to opening day. “It’s a credit to our team.”
Battle continues after final whistle
Another issue that might affect the Sounders this week is the potential fallout from a postgame scuffle Saturday, which will be reviewed by MLS.
Emotions got heated just as the final whistle blew as Chicago defender Jalil Anibaba went into a physical sliding tackle on Seattle’s Leo Gonzalez. A handful of Sounders took exception to the play and the pushing and shoving ensued. Evans and Pappa had to be separated at one point.
Anibaba said there was no malice intended and Chicago coach Frank Klopas implied referee Michael Kennedy was in part to blame for letting things get out of control during the game.
Said Schmid: “I think (the Fire’s) frustration all came out in the end a little bit.”
• For some, stoppage time seemed to run long. Kennedy indicated there would be four added minutes, but after a few more stoppages, it went a while longer as Chicago pressed for an equalizer. “It was supposed to be four, then (Kennedy) added another two, and then two turned into three,” said Schmid with a smile. “So it ended up being like seven.”
• Seattle’s Mauro Rosales was forced to leave in the 51st minute after he couldn’t recover from a blow to the ankle on a tackle by Chicago’s Gonzalo Segares.
• Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso have each played all 540 MLS minutes this season. Forward Fredy Montero, who’s still seeking his first goal, has played 538.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.