BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Given the circumstances, Seattle Sounders FC won’t complain about Saturday’s 1-1 tie with the Chicago Fire.
Playing a man short for nearly 42 minutes, the Sounders rallied from a 1-0 deficit on a Tyrone Marshall goal and escaped with the tie – their first of the season – in a Major League Soccer match before 10,228 fans at Toyota Park in suburban Chicago.
“We’re fortunate to get a point,” said Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. “But we showed a lot of character, too … Any day you get a point when you – to put it bluntly – (may not) deserve a point is a good thing.”
The Sounders evened the score in the 74th minute when midfielder Freddie Ljungberg lined a perfect corner kick to Marshall, who found an opening and sent a shot past Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch for the equalizer.
“There were a lot of players that came in and Nate (Jaqua) I think had a good header, but he got shoved away,” said Ljungberg, who earned his first assist of the season. “That’s why we had Tyrone come from behind and he knocks it in an empty net.”
The Sounders (4-2-1, 13 points) are now unbeaten in their past two games and remain in second place in the MLS West. The Fire (2-0-5, 11 points) played its fourth consecutive tie.
An ill-timed ejection of forward Fredy Montero early in the second half left the Sounders with 10 players for the balance of the game.
Montero collided with Chicago’s Gonzalo Segares as both battled for position in the 48th minute. The collision appeared to be inadvertent, but officials quickly pulled out a red card, forcing Montero out of the match and leaving the Sounders with 10 players.
“Obviously, the red card changed the whole game,” said Sounders goalie Kasey Keller, back in the net after serving his own one-game red card suspension. “If you see it, it looked a little bit harsh – a lot harsh. But what are you going to do? But I thought we battled extremely well. We conceded a goal (to Chicago), but we didn’t quit, scored on the free kick and closed up shop.”
The Fire opened the scoring in the 68th minute on midfielder Marco Pappa’s third goal of the season.
He took a feed from midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who worked around two Sounders defenders with a slick 360-degree turn and fed Pappa.
Pappa, on loan from Guatemala’s CSD Municipal, then lined a shot to the left corner of the net as Keller made a diving attempt but missed the save.
The Fire controlled much of the first half tempo and nearly scored in the 15th minute when Fire captain Brian McBride lined to forward Patrick Nyarko in front of Keller. But Nyarko stumbled as he attempted a header and his try missed.
Nyarko had another opportunity in the 20th minute, but his liner ricocheted off the left post.
Seattle managed just two shots in the first half, none on goal, and had only one corner kick. Chicago, meanwhile, had eight shots and Keller made two saves.
Keller, who gave up a goal for the first time this season, said he could care less about his five-game shutout streak.
“I’m just so happy about the point,” he said. “Nil-nil, 1-1, I don’t care. It’s just nice that we fought back. You go a goal down, and to come back and get something out of a game is tremendous.”
Chicago out-shot Seattle 15-4 for the game and had a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.
The Sounders have an eight-day break before resuming MLS play on May 10 against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Qwest Field.