Bridgeview, IL (Sports Network) - Seattle Sounders FC visits the Chicago Fire
on Saturday in a rematch of the 2011 U.S. Open Cup final.
Seattle defeated Chicago in last season's Open Cup final at home for its third
straight title, and will visit Toyota Park for just its second road fixture in
Major League Soccer this season.
The Sounders (3-1-1) defeated the Fire, 2-0, in the U.S. Open Cup last season,
and are off to a good start in league play this season with three wins and one
draw through five matches.
All three of those wins, including a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids in their
last game, were at home for the Sounders. Seattle has a 0-0 tie at D.C. United
in its only road match.
With last week off, Seattle coach Sigi Schimd had more time to work on his new
strike partnership of Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero.
Montero, although without a goal or an assist this season, has been one of the
most feared strikers in MLS the last two years and Johnson, who joined Seattle
this offseason, is a proven striker in the league.
Johnson started his career with FC Dallas and also played for Kansas City, but
moved to Europe in 2008. He returned to MLS this year and made his first start
against the Rapids.
Schmid is confident Johnson, who has 12 goals in 42 matches for the U.S., will
regain previous form.
"For him, it's just a matter getting his timing (so) that he's able to train
everyday. That helps his timing," Schmid said.
"The best Eddie Johnson we're going to see is going to be around the middle of
May. As long as he continues to train, his timing, his game intuition and
fitness will come at that point."
Montero was also confident he would adjust to the new pairing and that his own
scoring drought would end. With Montero misfiring, Seattle went a record 306
minutes without a goal before scoring against Colorado.
"Right now I'm more worried about the team," Montero said. "I'm happy because
the team is winning games."
Chicago (2-1-2) will get only one chance to avenge its Open Cup loss, as these
clubs meet just once during the MLS regular season.
The Fire have played well to date, and have a win and a draw in their two home
games this season. Add in a 3-2 win at Toronto FC last week, and Chicago comes
back to Toyota Park confident ahead of the Seattle clash.
Chicago has its own impressive strike partnership developing in Patrick Nyarko
and Dominic Oduro, with the duo combining on the winning goal against TFC.
Oduro set up the goal for his first assist of the season and Nyarko scored for
his first goal of the season. With former German international Arne Friedrich
settling into defense, Nyarko and Oduro should be more comfortable up top.
"It feels good. It shows that we can be dynamic together. Either one of us can
play that pass, we can use our pace to get behind defenders," Nyarko said.