2011 Jun 4

Sounders' first scoreless draw of the season in Chicago is worth a road point

Chicago Fire  0 - 0  Seattle Sounders FC
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL


Chicago: Sean Johnson; Bratislav Ristic, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares; Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause, Dominic Oduro, Corben Bone (Gaston Puerari 67'); Diego Chaves (Patrick Nyarko 54'), Christian Nazarit (Orr Barouch 78').
Substitutes not used: Jon Conway, Jalil Anibaba, Dasan Robinson, Baggio Husidic.

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Tyson Wahl; Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales (Roger Levesque 67'), Lamar Neagle; Mike Fucito (Servando Carrasco 81'), Nate Jaqua (Fredy Montero 54').
Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders FC finished a two-match road stretch with a scoreless draw at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL. Goalkeepers Kasey Keller and Sean Johnson both needed some great saves to earn their shutouts.

Rain, lightning and hail came down before the match, but a break in the storm allowed a comfortable match.

Seattle's best chances both came early from Lamar Neagle. First Mauro Rosales, just returned to the starting lineup, juked two defenders inside the penalty area after receiving a throw-in and crossed perfectly to the far post. Neagle was all alone for the header, but he put it within Johnson's reach and he snared it. Neagle's next chance came when James Riley sent across a long diagonal pass. Neagle beat a defender to earn a shot and Johnson made his best save of the match overhead, parrying the shot over the bar.

Chicago's first two shots were immediately blocked by defenders, then a nice cross gave Diego Chaves a shot up the middle and he hit it right to Keller's midsection.

Keller's best save was needed when midfielder Daniel Paladini received a cleared corner kick and sent a shot at the top far corner. Keller leaped to get a glove on it for his best save, sending the ball over the bar. Paladini soon had another chance from 20 yards after juking Osvaldo Alonso but missed the lower near corner by a foot.

Another outstanding save was turned in by Keller at 31' when Oduro's short cross gave Chaves a good chance. Keller collapsed for the save and then claimed the loose ball just before Christian Nazarit reached it.

The last chance of the half came when Chaves shot from a cleared corner kick sent back in, but he missed the target by yards.

We counted 16 shots and 7 saves in the first half, split about evenly between the sides. The second half was a different story, with few shots and only one save needed, by Keller. It came early when Nazarit tried from the top left corner of the penalty area, sending a low shot to the near side where Keller was waiting.

Fredy Montero replaced the ineffective Nate Jaqua at forward early in the second half, and Chicago's defense switched to focusing on the Colombian. At the same time Patrick Nyarko replaced the ineffective Chaves.

For Chicago, Oduro's chance at one hour missed by a yard after deflecting off Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. For Seattle, Montero's 25-yard free kick up the middle just missed the top right corner.

Montero seemingly was through and in on goal at 72' after beating a defender on a 50-50 ball, but referee Terry Vaughn called a phantom foul -- the replay showed that there was no foul.

Chicago's second and last shot of the half came at 86' when Nyarko missed by two yards from 25.

Seattle had two late chances. First, Montero tried from 30 yards but skied it. Next, substitute Servando Carrasco shot from 25 off Alonso's drop pass and missed wide by two yards.

          CHI  SEA
Shots:     11   12
Saves:      4    5
Corners:    6    5
Fouls:     15   12
Offsides:   3    1

33' SEA: Fucito cautioned for throwing an elbow
36' SEA: Wahl cautioned for a tactical foul on Oduro just outside the penalty area
45' CHI: Chaves cautioned for pulling Alonso down in the circle

Referees: Terry Vaughn; Jason Cullum, Corey Parker; Michael Kennedy

Attendance: 13,839

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On the game: "Obviously we're happy to get a point. I thought we did a good job defending, Kasey had to come up with some big saves. In that middle 15 minute period in the first half after that I think we did a better job attacking and got some chances. But at the end of the day we're playing a team that's motivated, we're playing a new coach, and to come away with a point is not that bad."

On controlling the first 20, 25 minutes of the game: "I thought we might have a chance to be able to do that. We talked about being able to match their intensity at the beginning of the game, and I think we did that. We also feel like we're a good road team so we try to play with the willingness to go forward and I thought we did that early on. If we could have scored a goal than we could have changed things, but they put us on our heels a little bit, Dominic Oduro got himself into the game and he was dangerous at times. Chaves had a really good look, so they had some good chances. Obviously Paladini's shot to Kasey that Kasey pulls out of the corner."

On playing in the heat: "Obviously it's not hot for me, I'm over on the sidelines. For us, it's the first time we've played in heat, and I thought fitness-wise, we held up fairly well. We haven't played in the heat and humidity, and we haven't trained in the heat and humidity, so as a result of that, fitness-wise I thought we were good. I thought even at the end of the game besides Montero's chance, which I don't know if it was a foul, we also had Roger who had the header off the corner, we also had some chances to win it as well."

On coming to Chicago after the coaching change: "It was quite difficult because we didn't know what they were going to change. He didn't change a lot of people or personnel. I think they played a little more direct than they did under de los Cobos. That made it a difficult game for us. Nazarit is a big guy, he challenges for headers and wins a lot of those, and they were certainly looking for him. It was difficult so we weren't quite sure how their style was going to change."

On Lamar Neagle: "I thought he was good, I thought he had some good moments, he's still a young player. There's always some ups and down. He had two good chances early on, I'm sure he'd like to have that header back for sure. I think he missed the ball in the second half but he got through it and picked up steam again towards the end. I think he rose in confidence as he was 1v1 on the edge of the 18..."

Kasey Keller

On the game: "It was a tough game. I think Sean made a couple good saves, I had to make a few saves at the end of the first half. The second half was a battle and there were a few half chances for both teams but no one could get that final touch, that final piece of magic to separate it. So I think overall it was a pretty fair result. It could have been a different occasion, it could have been a 1-1 or a 2-2, but like you said I was able to make a few saves, Sean made a couple good saves and we were able to keep it at zeros."

On a first half Chicago Fire chance: "I got a good jump on it, I kind of lost it a little bit but I thought the only place it could go was there, so I took a gamble but I had a pretty good idea of where it was going to go. Like I said, I got a jump and fortunately the ball was somewhere where I could reach it."

On Sean Johnson's performance: "Obviously he's a good young goalkeeper who's coming up and as long as he continues to learn he's got a bright future. He made a great save early on Lamar to keep it at zero. There was continued pressure but he made the saves he needed to make."

On the collision with Cristian Nazarit: "Nothing really, I just collected the ball and he came in as I was protecting myself and just kind of caught me and I think James came over to make sure everything was alright, but it was no big deal. I expect him to go for the ball and it's part of the game."

Chicago Fire

Frank Klopas - Head Coach

On the draw against the Seattle Sounders: "Obviously, we played two different halves. I thought in the first half we pushed the game and had some opportunities. I felt they had some opportunities, too. But, this has been the story for us so far. We always create opportunities, but we need to finish some of those. Some of the things we worked on in the set pieces that have led into goal scoring opportunities didn't occur tonight, so it's a positive clean sheet for Sean and the rest of the team, who worked very hard. We tried to push the game in the second game with the guys we brought in and that is why we have subs. I believe in my players and I put them in. We didn't get the win, but I thought there were a lot of positives going away from this game."

On Daniel Paladini: "Danny had a very good game. I think he has the ability out of the back not only to attack from behind, but also make those diagonal balls. I think it is crucial today because in the four days we talked about Seattle and how they like to overplay the ball. They compact space and we knew we constantly had to be switching the ball with diagonal balls and I think Daniel had a very good game. We saw we were able to do that and move the ball. We were patient in our buildup and got opportunities. We had commitment from runners in the back trying to create that numerical superiority. I think that Daniel was very good tonight."

On changes he made this week and how the team played differently: "Well, I think we focused a lot. If you look at the last games, I think an area of concern was definitely the goals we've been giving up. We've been creating chances, so that is a positive. I think fine tuning little things and I think just looking at the opponent we've been playing. There are strengths on how to break them down and I think that the team had good ideas as far as knowing we definitely can be better and times when we are forcing the ball. We were constantly looking on how to change the point of attack. They overplayed the middle and they force you to play those types of balls in the middle because they are very good at almost inviting you to play then they close the space and then off they go. When we did look to play the ball in the middle, we wanted to make sure when we looked for Chaves or Nazarit that the midfielders had an easy outlet out, so we could play in, get it back, then look to switch it. So, that is some of the stuff we worked on. You saw in the game that the guys were constantly looking to do that. I think the important thing is to have better ideas in the final third and movement off the ball."

On why there were fewer chances in the second half: "It's hard to say. I felt we made some changes because we wanted to bring some fresh players in. At times, we had opportunities to be simpler and connect players. I think we weren't as sharp in connecting the final pass or the outlet pass out wide. I think we had moments in transitions where we got the ball and were able to break, but I think at times we didn't step high enough to win the second ball and keep possession in that half. I think in the second half the game was more balanced and we talked about putting guys that were fresh in the forward position, so they could chase the ball down and apply more pressure. I think a key in the game was having more movement off the ball. I think late in the game the guys got tired and we didn't push up high enough. If we play those balls we should be able to keep the ball in their own half."

On the road trip coming up: "There are no distractions at home. There is no better place than to be at home. We have a great stadium and great fans. We want to be here. I think we have a lot of games coming up and we have to make sure that we rotate players and make sure they are fresh. In time, everything will get better. This is not an excuse, but we'd rather be here at Toyota Park than any other play, believe me."

Sean Johnson

On the shutout: "Our focus tonight was on the defensive end and to come out and get a shutout. The guys were committed early on. It's important when the other team has chances to communicate with each other, shut that down and make sure everyone is on the same page again. When we don't do that, those are the little things that cost us in the long run. We came together in the second half and limited their chances and gave ourselves the opportunity to win the game."

On playing against Kasey Keller: "It's always good to get a shutout. When you are playing you see different scenarios throughout the entire game, it's a learning process. Every game you learn more and more, and seeing Keller back there and how he commands things gives me a better understanding of the game."

Logan Pause

On the new start to the season: "There's an element of a new start and a new opportunity for guys who might not have gotten to play, but it's not like all of the sudden we have 34 games from here. We know we're at the bottom , we also know that in this league a couple of wins puts you right back in the thick of things. We're trying to keep things in perspective - we know we haven't been good enough, we know we have a long way to go and we know with a couple of wins we can get the ball rolling. Overall, I think it was a good start and now we have to focus on every single day we have to stay after it and work on the little things. We have to try and get better every day and not take one second off. We have to continue to drive that home. It's an exciting time with a young group that's energetic and optimistic and hopefully we'll turn things around."

On the result: "I think where we're grabbing the positivity and the good aspects are from how we approached the game. Our preparation throughout the week was on not giving up a set-piece goal, keeping a clean sheet and creating chances. I think that's why everyone's so positive, but the reality of the situation is that we have a lot of work to do. Before you know it, it's September and we can't lose sight of how quick this season goes. It feels good to have a zero, but at the end of the day we need some wins."

Daniel Paladini

On the second half: "They put more pressure on us, and we were basically trying to sort out where Fredy was and to play a bit more defensively in the second half. When Patrick came on and Corben moved to the middle it created a bit more of an attacking dynamic, so we still had some chances."

On his performance: "It's basically Logan's job and mine is to stop their offensive threats, and when we can to get into the attacking third. Tonight I found myself in some good spots and I took my chances."

On the winless streak: "This whole week of training we've been concentrating on it a lot, it's been a bit different. We were definitely prepared and knew exactly what we were doing. We executed our game plan; we just couldn't find the back of the net."

Corben Bone

On playing under a new coach: "It's kind of a new beginning, but I think we've always believed we could get back in there. The coaching change doesn't change that, we have belief in ourselves and Frank has belief in us so that's just going to help us keep moving forward."

On the result...) "I think we played well. We had some good chances and we played well defensively, so I'd say it was one of our better games for sure