BY SPNW Staff 08:55PM 05/13/2017

Sounders collapse in second half, fall to Fire 4-1

David Accam (60th minute), Luis Solignac (73rd) and Nemania Nikolic (76th) scored  goals in a 16-minute span of the second half, lifting the Chicago Fire, normally a gimme win for Seattle, to a 4-1 victory over the Sounders Saturday night at sold-out Toyota Park. The drubbing was such that Clint Dempsey left the match in the 79th minute.

Prior to the Saturday’s embarrassing result, the Sounders had lost just once in 11 regular-season meetings with the Fire  (7-3-1) and had fashioned a 3-1-2 record at Toyota Park.

Coming off a 1-0 CenturyLink Field loss to Toronto FC, the Sounders fell to 2-4-4 (10 points). The loss was the worst in the regular season for the Sounders since June 2015, when they fell 4-1 to the Portland Timbers. The Sounders are winless in their last three matches and have just one win in their past seven.

“It’s a bit of a shock to see us that far down the standings with only two wins,” said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer. “Based on the way we played some of our games; this game I won’t use that excuse. The Fire were better.  They were better.”

The Fire scored in the 25th minute when Nikolic tallied on a re-try of a penalty kick. But Dempsey answered three minutes later with a long-distance shot — his fourth goal of the season — that tied it 1-1, which is where matters stood at halftime. Dempsey’s left-footed blast from outside the box found the right corner of the net.

The Sounders had some questionable calls go against them in the first half, and came close to two other goals. Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro had a shot deflect off the crossbar and Dempsey narrowly missed a close-range header. But all that was negated by the drubbing the Sounders absorbed in the second with Chicago’s onslaught.

“I think the first 45 minutes were OK,” Schmetzer said. ” I thought they came out in the second half and established better position than we did. They were able to dictate the tempo of the game.

”  When they scored the second goal, we have to do a better job marking inside the penalty box. On the third goal, we let guys run. We aren’t going to win games if we don’t defend. Simple as that.”

Seattle won the time of possession, 52.3 percent to 47.7, but managed two shots on target to Chicago’s six.

The Sounders continue a two-game road trip Wednesday with a 5:30 p.m., PT match at Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders return to CenturyLink Field Saturday, May 20, to host Real Salt Lake.


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