Fire vs. Sounders: Match Preview

MLS: JUN 13 Fire at United

The Fire bring their two game win streak and first place record into Seattle this weekend, where they will take on the second place Sounders at Qwest Field on Saturday (2 p.m. on ESPN).

The Fire, who has been excellent on the road all season, is looking forward to their match with Seattle, who - along with being tops in the league in average attendance - has the best home record in MLS.

"I think they've done well especially for being a first year team," said Fire defender Tim Ward. "With Seattle being one of the toughest places to play it'll definitely be a tough game but we've done well on the road so hopefully we continue to do that this weekend."
The Fire and Seattle have already met once on the year, [playing to a 1-1 tie at Toyota Park on May 2nd](http://www.soccerbyives.net/soccer_by_ives/2009/05/fire-settle-for-draw-vs-tenman-sounders.html#more). The Fire will want to improve upon the disappointment of that result - they gave up a late equalizer after playing much of the second half up a man - this weekend.

Check out the videos below for footage of the goals from the May 2nd match...

For me, the biggest factor in determining whether or not the Fire will leave the Pacific Northwest with a result is if the Fire defense will be able to limit the output of Seattle's talented attackers. I touched on this topic in a post earlier in the week ([check it out here...](http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-fire-confidential/2009/07/fire-practice-report-721.html#more)) and I still think it is absolutely crucial that the Fire's back four (along with defensive midfielder John Thorrington) make Seattle uncomfortable on the ball with some high intensity defense. This job may be made a little more difficult with center back Bakary Soumare suspended for the match, but I have faith that the pairing of C.J. Brown and Wilman Conde will play well.

Another key for the Fire will be to control a good amount of possession. The Fire will want to do this not only to spark their offense, but also to keep the ball away from Seattle's skilled attackers. I touched a little bit on this topic in the other piece as well, but for the sake of you and your internet browser I'll post Denis Hamlett's quote here as well.

"You have to make [their attackers] defend," said Hamlett. "I think you respect the fact that they have an attacking minded group but I think the way that you can minimize that is having your guys look to attack and make them have to defend."

Personally, I'm a fan of this strategy by Hamlett. I think this aggressive mindset is a great way to take both the team and the crowd out of the game early and hopefully it'll work out.

**Prediction:**

This is a tough one for me to call. The Fire are best in the league on the road, but Seattle is tops in MLS at home. One would say that something has to give in this match but I think that the two sides will even each other out and play to yet another 1-1 draw. The scorching-hot Fredy Montero will get a goal in his sixth straight game and Chris Rolfe will equalize for the Fire.

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  • I've been waiting for this match all season.
    It's gonna be awesome!!!

    FIRE4EVER

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