Sounders FC (0-2-2) vs. Chicago Fire (1-0-1)
Saturday, April 9, 1 p.m., Qwest Field
Dual broadcast: KING-5 TV, 97.3 KIRO-FM (Arlo White and Erin Mayovsky)
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
KEY CHICAGO PLAYERS
M Marco Pappa — The young Guatemalan is emerging as a star in this league. Dangerous in the run of play. Dangerous on set pieces. He’s been the first name mentioned in Sounders FC’s scouting reports this week. Expect him to be a marked man.
D Gonzalo Segares — The 28-year-old Costa Rican left the team after the 2009 season for Greek Cypriot club Apollon Limassol, but then returned last August. His experience will be counted upon to absorb pressure in the back. Has also shown the ability to contribute to the attack.
GK Sean Johnson — Seattle’s opponents have maximized their points thanks in part to standout goalkeeping performances. Some people think the 21-year-old could be the next big thing in goal. He earned his first cap with the U.S. men’s national team a couple months ago.
Steve Zakuani vs. Jalil Anibaba — Right backs are always in for a tough assignment with Seattle’s dangerous left winger, but Anibaba might have a little edge over previous defenders in one regard. If you remember, the Fire rookie trained for a bit with the Sounders last year. Might that experience help?
Patrick Nyarko vs. Leo Gonzalez — Nyarko is another dynamic option for Chicago on the right wing. Has drawn a team-high seven fouls in less than two full games and we all know Gonzalez has a propensity to commit them now and again (he’s already earned three yellow cards).
Sounders FC confidence vs. performance — With each passing week, the pressure mounts to get a win. With each disappointing result, the self-belief drops a notch. It’s been since Oct. 15 since Seattle won a game that counts. That’s eight MLS games ago, but who’s counting?
A loss or draw won’t knock the Sounders out of the playoff hunt. It won’t push the Supporters’ Shield out of reach. But it will certainly ramp up the heat. This isn’t breaking news by any stretch but this team needs to dig deep and get a win. No excuses.
This is the week to do it too. The next two games are on the road against Philadelphia and Colorado, neither of which treated Seattle well last year.
I think it happens.
I know my predictions haven’t been on point this year, but this has to be the week, right? We say this every week, but it has to be. I’m calling for an early goal and a grind-it-out win.
Sounders FC 1, Chicago Fire 0
19′ — O’Brian White (Steve Zakuani)
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What do you think? Is this the breakthrough week?