BY SPNW Staff 08:23PM 04/28/2012

Fights and a late scare, but Sounders prevail

The Sounders survived a blustery evening, a late scare and multiple post-match scuffles to prevail 2-1 over the Fire in Chicago Saturday night, making for a second consecutive undefeated April.

Cruising along with a 2-0 lead, the Sounders were shocked in the 89th minute by a corner kick from Marco Pappa that went in untouched over the outstretched hands of goalie Michael Gspurning.

Pappa’s left-footed bullet bent perfectly with the high wind and seemed to surprise Gspurning as it sailed into the far post and banged into the back of the net. It was only the third goal allowed by the Sounders this season.

“It was really unbelievable,” Gspurning said. “We played the second half against the wind. So I would say 70 percent, it was a good corner kick, and 30 percent was the 50 mph wind picking it up, so I had to step up and by that time it had hit the post and gone in.

“I’m always a positive guy but I know it will be on all the season highlights now with this goal.”

The score broke a streak of 333 minutes without a goal, and seemed to unsettle the Sounders. The Fire brought pressure and had a shot on goal in the fourth minute of added time that required Gspurning to grab the ball and fall to the turf for his fourth save of the night.

As the game ended, Leo Gonzalez was felled by a hard tackle that inspired angry shouts and numerous shoving matches between the sides. Brad Evans was in the midst of the altercations and had to be pulled away by teammates. Coaches and reserve came into the field to break things up as the disputes lingered for more than three minutes.

In an unusual post-match move, head coach Sigi Schmid called the team together on the field for a lecture on the late letdown.

Regarding the melee, Schmid said, “I think it was a pretty aggressive tackle right at the end of the game from Anibaba on Leo Gonzalez.  Obviously it was a frustrating game for Chicago because they had some great opportunities, and it’s one of those days where it just didn’t go in for them.  I think that frustration all came out in the end a little bit.

“Obviously there’s accusations in there, you know, some of their guys probably saying our guys pushed them, one of our guys said he got punched.  The referees will have a look at it and look at the videotape.”

In the 39th minute, David Estrada’s pass into the middle of the penalty area was deflected off Fire defender Arne Friedrich’s left knee and dribbled past goalkeeper Sean Johnson for an own goal. But a review at halftime changed the credit to Estrada.

In the 65th minute, Eddie Johnson scored his first goal as a Sounder, pushing in a rebound off goalie Johnson, who then fell on the Seattle striker’s ankle. He resumed play after a couple of minutes and played the full game.

“I guess for a striker ,it’s good for confidence,” Eddie Johnson said. “The team sacrificed a lot bringing me here.  It’s my second game and it’s important to get off to a good start.  Without the effort from my teammates and the guys around me tonight, I don’t think that goal would have been possible for me.

“It wasn’t the best performance from us, but sometimes you have to win ugly.”

The three points in the franchise’s 100th MLS game gave the Sounders a 4-1-1 record and improved their mark against the Fire to 4-0-3. Chicago fell to 2-2-2.

The Sounders host the Los Angles Galaxy Wednesday.


  • Steve60

    Alex Smith?  Seriously?  You’ll have to convince me that he’s substantially better than a healthy TJ.  The difference would be at the margins and not the improvement we need.

  • zippy0

    NOOOOO- the only reason SF won 13 games was an amazing defense- Alex Smith did not lead anything — he did a trent dilfer impersonation- Willis lead the team (like Lewis did for Ravens) in rare defensive lead team– NO ALEX SMITH

  • drshort

    Isn’t Smith an unrestricted free agent? If Seattle wanted him, why not just go after him regardless of what Manning does. I happen to think he’s a big upgrade over TJ

  • RadioGuy

    Alex Smith a “big upgrade” over Tarvaris Jackson?  I don’t agree.  Smith was in the right place at the right time.  Finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk doesn’t make you a financial wizard…it just makes you lucky.

    If Manning does sign with the 49ers, the leftover QB I’d like to pluck off their roster isn’t Smith, it’s Colin Kaepernick, who is an absolute stud:  He’s 6’6,” runs the 40 in 4.53 and can juke a DB out of his jockstrap, and is the only QB in D1 history to pass for 2,000+ yards and run for 1,000+ yards three years in a row.  What Pete Carroll could do a with guy like that under center.  Harbaugh loves him, though (he had Kaepernick work with Luck during the lockout so he’d have a better feel for what Harbaugh likes to do once camp finally opened), and probably wouldn’t let him go.