The Fire desperately needed a win. Not only because of where they stand in the table but Chicago had never beaten the Seattle Sounders (0-6-3) since they entered the league as an expansion team in 2009. Playing at home against a Seattle side missing Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey, and Marco Pappa seemed as good a time as any even though the Fire were without David Accam, Shaun Maloney, Joevin Jones, and Jeff Larentowicz.
Jason Johnson's classy 92nd minute strike was all the scoring needed as the Fire finally got one of those "highlight" goals that have plagued them to fall their way. In perhaps a telling scene that reflects that the team is aware that Frank Yallop's future may depend on the results of the next month of matches, Johnson celebrated his goal by heading to the sideline and embracing his coach. He was joined seconds later by the rest of the players on the squad.
Seattle almost scored what could have been a soul-crusher as the first half came to an end. Cristian Roldan's 45th minute volley from distance hit the crossbar and kept Seattle from taking a lead after the Fire had several chances in the first half led by the play of Patrick Nyarko, Harry Shipp, and Mike Magee. Despite some entertaining up and down action from both sides, the game remained scoreless until Johnson's blast in stoppage time.
The Fire are still at the bottom of the table but the feeling of hope has returned for at least a few days as another big game looms ahead on Wednesday night at home against Columbus. With David Accam close to returning, a potential outside midfield featuring him and Patrick Nyarko in combination with Shipp and Magee promises to provide something supporters can look forward to. Whether or not the hole that's been dug is too deep to crawl out of remains to be seen, but for one night there is hope.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - One big save against Craven in the 62nd kept the game scoreless. Played well in general as the Sounders only had 2 of their 9 attempts on target but distribution continues to need work.
D Patrick Doody (5.5) - A decent run in his MLS debut after being called in from loan at Saint Louis. Had a few moments of indecision but didn't hurt the squad.
D Eric Gehrig (6) - One of his better games this season. Got into a shoving match with Chad Barrett as the first half expired. Strong throughout.
D Adailton (6) - Also strong for 90 minutes as the Sounders didn't have the type of players available to test his mobility.
D Lovel Palmer (5.5) - Good in making runs forward and contributing offensively, particularly in the first half but several crosses were sailed well over everyone.
M Harry Shipp (6) - Sharp for most of the match although a goal wasn't generated from his efforts. Shipp and Nyarko were particularly dangerous, causing havoc for Seattle during the first 45 minutes. Started on the left side with Nyarko on the right. Had a quieter second half but still managed to land passes in good spots for teammates.
M Matt Polster (6) - The Fire's midfield won the battle in the middle of the park against Ozzie Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda. Chicago won the possession advantage 51-49 and completed 77% of their passes. Polster completed 84% of his.
M Razvan Cocis (6) - Passing at 88% and active in breaking up Seattle attacks before they got to the back line. Cocis was very effective in this game in a solid shift.
M Patrick Nyarko (6.5) - Looked like he hadn't missed a beat in tormenting Seattle defenders. Almost scored a goal of his own in the 19th minute but Perkins saved his headed shot from a Shipp cross to deny him. Responsible for numerous corner kick chances. Departed in the 65th after taking a knock but he says he's okay and ready for Wednesday.
F Mike Magee (6) - Effective in moving the ball positively and playing a role in several combination plays leading to chances. The Fire couldn't unlock the Seattle defense for the final touch though. Yallop said he took a knee to the back and he replaced him in the 70th but the injury is not serious.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5) - Wasn't awful but just not good enough to take advantage of the chance created by Nyarko, Magee, and Shipp. If he was not a DP, his production (or lack of) would be easier to swallow.
M Jason Johnson (7) - His late goal was the winner but he had another chance in the 88th that nearly gave the Fire a lead. His shot was saved by a diving Perkins and the rebound nearly fell to do Prado. Excellent production after coming on for Nyarko in the 65th. Catch his post game comments here.
F Guly do Prado (5) - Subbed in for Magee in the 70th. A shot on goal easily handled by Perkins in the 76th and a header attempt in the 78 that was also saved were positives. A horrid touch from a Shipp pass with nobody near him in front of goal in the 89th was the negative.
M Michael Stephens (7) - Entered the match for Igboananike in the 83rd. His run at the Seattle defense and pass to lead Johnson for the winner were key. He spoke about his lack of playing time and direction from the coaching staff after the game.