Saturday, April 9, 2011
Posted: 6:16 p.m.
By Dieter Kurtenbach
SEATTLE Goals from Steve Zakuani and OBrian White gave the Seattle Sounders the lead, and critical saves from Kasey Keller preserved it, as Seattle won its first game of the season 2-1 over the Chicago Fire Saturday at Qwest Field.
White put Seattle on the board in the seventh minute, using a precision cross from Mauro Rosales, whose service found Whites head 16 yards from goal, and the Jamaican striker, despite being double-marked, expertly bent the header inside the goalpost.
The Fire responded a minute later, with Patrick Nyarko streaking up the right flank and sending a low cross into the box. Diego Chaves found the other end of the pass and, with a deft touch, slid the ball past Keller to equalize, quieting the raucous Qwest Field crowd.
Chaves has now scored in each of his first three games for the Fire, becoming the first player in franchise history to do so.
Seattle bombarded Chicago from the wings throughout the game, with Zakuani leading the charge. Zakuani and Whites give-and-go along the left sideline in the twenty-fifth minute sprung Zakuani from two Chicago defenders, giving the speedy winger a one-on-one with Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Zakuani caught the indecisive Johnson flat-footed and blasted a shot inside the near post for the game-winning goal.
Chicagos offensive game came around in the second half, but the play of Keller prevented great chances from becoming equalizers.
Keller, the 41-year-old Seattle captain, first stopped Chaves in the fifty-eighth minute after a blocked free kick pinballed in the box and fell to the feet of the unmarked Chicago striker ten-yards out. Keller was able to recover his positioning just in time to make a diving reaction save to Chaves shot.
Minutes later, a through ball from Chaves gave Gaston Puerari a breakaway. Keller came out to cut Pueraris angle and was able to deflect the Uruguayans shot with his foot.
Puerari has had breakaway opportunities in each of his first three games for the Fire. Against Sporting Kansas City he scored, but Saturday and in the season opener against FC Dallas, the crafty forward was foiled by top-notch saves.
The loss is the first of the season for the Fire, whose record is now a poetic 1-1-1.
The team will remain on the West Coast this week in preparation for its game against the expansion Portland Timbers on Thursday night. That game will be the first home game for Portland (0-2-1) as an MLS franchise. The Timbers played in the USL and USSF Division 2 between 2001 and 2010, before becoming the eighteenth member of MLS.