Tomorrow, Saturday, June 7 will mark the Fire’s last match before the World Cup break in the team’s first season under head coach Frank Yallop. The game will start at 7:30 p.m. CDT at Toyota Park in suburban Bridgeview, Illinois.
The Sounders bring with them a collection of familiar faces and former Fire players including defender Jalil Anibaba, forward Chad Barrett and midfielder Marco Pappa. Designated players including forward and United States star Clint Dempsey, forward Obafemi Martins and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso give the team from the Emerald City plenty of star power. The Seattle list of big names doesn’t end their, as the roster also boasts forward Kenny Cooper, midfielder Brad Evans and USA defender DeAndre Yedlin to name a few.
The Sounders may be best known for their playoff shortcomings and great fan support, averaging more than 40,000 fans at each home game this year (well above the league average that has checked in in the 18,000s in recent seasons), but neither will matter come Saturday. The Fire are at home and the Sounders are top of the table.
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While the Sounders’ road goal differential is -1, the Supporters’ Shield race leaders will prove to be a great challenge for the Fire, who will be looking to get back to .500 and into the playoff race before the World Cup break. One advantage the Fire will have, in addition to the home field, will be the absence of Seattle’s World Cup-bound stars currently training with their national teams. The United States will be playing Saturday as well in their final tuneup match at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida against Nigeria. The USMNT match will start at 5 p.m. CDT.
Seattle sports the league’s best offense, with 29 goals in 14 league matches this season, but have only allowed one less goal than the Fire. With Yedlin out of the picture, the Fire could have an opportunity to capitalize on Seattle’s less-than-stellar defense.
Both the Sounders and the Fire have lost just three games this year, but as the table shows, the Fire are currently 17th in the 19-team league. The Fire have a tendency to tie a lot of matches, eight already this season, while the Sounders have drawn just twice.
Should the Fire win Saturday, they could be tied with the Columbus Crew for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, although the Crew would maintain possession of the playoff position due to having more total wins.
The Fire are 0-5-3 all-time against the Sounders, and have scored just twice while going 0-2-2 against Seattle at home.
- The Fire have loaned goalkeeper Alec Kann to the Charlotte Eagles for the remainder of the season. The Eagles compete in the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division, or USL Pro, the third division of soccer in the United States. Many MLS team have affiliations with USL Pro teams, though the Charlotte Eagles remain independent. The Fire are expected to affiliate with Saint Louis FC next season.
- Kann had served as the Fire’s third-string goalkeeper before the loan, currently blocked by Sean Johnson and Kyle Reynish.
- The Fire will play a U.S. Open Cup match at home during the World Cup break, hosting the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL Pro at Toyota Park June 18.
- The Fire lost the U.S. Open Cup Final to the Sounders in Seattle in 2011.