Playoff points at stake.
Chicago Fire: The Fire has not looked so hot the last several weeks, so picking someone who is on form has become quite the laborious task. You get the feeling with this Fire team that if they would have made their roster moves at the beginning of the season they would be in a different place. One newcomer who looked strong this past week against Real Salt Lake was Bratislav Ristic. The Serbian brought some much needed creativity into the line up, but then again, the Fire still
Seattle Sounders FC: The Sounders finally saw Blaise Nkufo score his first MLS goal in the 4-0 win over the Columbus Crew last week. He went on to notch two more strikes, and become the first Seattle player to earn a hat trick. The accolades continued for the striker when he was named the MLS Player of the Week for his performance.
Chicago: For a team that has had everything to play for the last few weeks, there are surprisingly a number of players that could be selected for this one. Today I am going to pick on the defense and in particularly Wilmen Conde. The Colombian defender is normally a solid option in the
back, but his foolish fouling put the Fire down a man on the road this weekend. First he made a pointless late challenge from behind after the ball was already gone, and then he pulled down Ned Grabavoy in the box who, while in a dangerous position, was in a far less menacing
position than the ensuing penalty kick that was awarded.
Seattle: The Rave Green played in Monterrey on Wednesday night for their CCL matchup. The Sounders, with a second-rate lineup, took a 2-0 lead midway into the second half. In a span of four minutes the home side netted three goals, including a penalty kick. The defensive play was sloppy, and head coach Sigi Schmid will need to make sure that his regular lineup tightens up before the Chicago match.
Chicago: It appears that De los Cobos has given up on Brian McBride and given his spot to Collins John. While younger, John has certainly not done much to win the position, but one gets the feeling that poor De los Cobos is desperate to find a winning combination at this point. Nery Castillo started up top last game with Ljunberg sitting back in the midfield. I would expect to see more of the same this weekend along with Pappa, Ristic or Nyarko looking to attack from the wings.
Seattle: A rejuvenated Nkufo played most of the game against Columbus further away from the net. His positioning allowed him more freedom to maneuver and find the space to score his three goals. The Sounders’ other scoring threat, Fredy Montero, struck twice in the August 28th matchup against the Fire. Head coach Sigi Schmid will keep both forwards up front in a 4-4-2 formation that should be a handful for Chicago’s defenders.
Chicago: Freddie lost round one against his old mates last month, and the Swede will no doubt want to show better this time around in front of the home crowd. This game also still has some playoff implications as Chicago trails Seattle by 10 points and really must win this game to have any kind of shot at making a late season push for a spot in the playoffs.
Seattle: The Sounders’ original Designated Player Freddie Ljungberg was traded to the Fire under less than ideal circumstances. After the Swede’s departure, both sides toned down the rhetoric. Nonetheless, the emotions and physical play will be high in the Ljungberg versus Sounders rematch.
Chicago: I actually think the Fire will finally win this one. Seattle is coming off a tough midweek game in Mexico while Chicago should be well rested. 2-1 Fire.
Seattle: The Sounders win on the road to edge even closer to securing a playoff slot. Seattle Sounders FC 2 (Montero, Nkufo) – 1 Chicago Fire (Ljungberg).
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