Keller quells Fire in Seattle's victory


Keller quells Fire in Seattle's victory

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.

Bears have run hurry-up offense, Brian Hoyer style

Bears have run hurry-up offense, Brian Hoyer style

Brian Hoyer spent Wednesday’s practice as the presumptive No. 1 quarterback, sources said, and with Jay Cutler limited due to his thumb injury, the Bears began prep for the Detroit Lions next Sunday in Soldier Field with Hoyer getting more used to the offense that he has only sparingly run since training camp.

Some of Hoyer’s teammates spent Wednesday’s practice getting a little more used to him.

A veteran of 27 NFL starts, Hoyer doesn’t do things the way Cutler does them. He doesn’t throw as hard. He doesn’t throw as far. And he runs a sort-of hurry-up offense compared to Cutler.

“Hoyer has a real good sense of urgency to him,” said left tackle Charles Leno Jr. “He’s more fast paced. He likes to quicken up things, whether it’s the cadence, the flow – he just has a real natural sense of urgency about himself.”

This involves more than just a feeling. The Bears ARE faster under Hoyer, based on one very unofficial measure, because game situations differ even though the Bears ultimately lost all three games.

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

Based on snaps and time played, the Bears have run 2.2 plays per minute with Cutler. They have run 2.6 per minute, approaching 20 percent more, under “urgent” Hoyer.

The play rate, however, is not entirely on the quarterback. Like all teams, the Bears build tempos into their system, and defenses also dictate some of how the Bears elect to work.

Still, “Jay is more laid back, more relaxed, even-keeled,” Leno said, smiling. “But that’s just Hoyer, more sense of urgency."

Visa, PNC Bank partner for behind-the-scenes 360 degree look at Bears practice

Visa, PNC Bank partner for behind-the-scenes 360 degree look at Bears practice

Visa and PNC Bank have partnered up to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at Bears practice with a 360 degree video.

On the web, simply use your mouse to click and drag the screen to change your view. For mobile, you can tilt your device to experience the VR 360 effect.

If you're headed to the Bears-Lions game on Sunday at Soldier Field, be sure to stop by the Ultimate Tailgate on the Stadium Green from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. to experience practice from a VR headset.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

You can also sign up for the Bears PNC Visa Debit Card to receive deals on gear throughout the season by clicking here.