Fire search for victory against Sounders

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Fire search for victory against Sounders

The most important match for the Fire last season came against the Seattle Sounders, and the result wasnt what the Fire wanted.

The two clubs met in Seattle on Oct. 4 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final, the Sounders winning 2-0. They scored the game-winner, by Fredy Montero in the 77th minute, and Osvaldo Alonso had an insurance goal in stoppage time as the Sounders won their third straight Open Cup and deprived the Fire of winning its fifth overall.

"When you play for a championship, to lift a trophy, its a little different than league play," said Fire captain Logan Pause. "(Seattles) a difficult play to play, going into CenturyLink Stadium, plus they were a very good team and on that day they were better. They deserved to win, but thats behind us."

But itll be a hard result for either side to forget, since 20 of the 27 players participating in the Open Cup final are still on the rosters of their respective teams as the clubs prepare for their first meeting of 2012 on Saturday night at Toyota Park.

Not all Major League Soccer clubs take the summer-long Open Cup tournament as seriously as the Fire and Sounders do.

"We put a lot into it," said Fire coach Frank Klopas, "but we were playing a good team. Its a different season now, and well be playing at home."

So far, it hasnt mattered where the Fire plays the Sounders. The Fire has yet to win, standing 0-3-3 in MLS meetings since Seattle entered the league in 2009. In those six matches the Fire scored just three goals. Both clubs come into Saturdays meeting with some momentum. Seattle is off to a 3-1-1 start, while the Fire is 2-1-1.

"Most of their team is returning, and they still play the same style very disciplined, very hard-working. Itll be a great test for us," said Pause.

The most-marked man for the Fire will have to be forward David Estrada, who has scored four of the Sounders six goals.

"Theyve got guys who understand their roles," said Pause. "What really jumps out is their midfield. Its one of the strongest in the league with Alonso, (Brad) Evans, (Leo) Gonzalez and (Alvaro) Fernandez. These guys are incredibly dynamic, incredibly mobile, and they work their tails off."

Most notable absentee is goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who retired from the Sounders after a brilliant career following last season. Hes now a TV commentator for the Sounders and his replacement, Michael Gspurning, is working on a 248-minute shutout streak. Gspurning played in Greece the last five seasons.

Seattle also has an MLS-best six-game regular season road unbeaten streak (5-0-1), dating back to last season.

The Fire is still unlikely to get newly re-acquired striker Chris Rolfe on the field. He sprained his right ankle in training shortly after leaving Denmark to join the Fire and he spent most of last week in a walking cast. Hes listed as questionable for the Seattle match.

"Theres not much swelling, but he still has pain when he walks," said Klopas. "Every day hes getting better, but hes not to the point where he can run yet."

Fire Talk Podcast: Dax McCarty returns to his old home

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USA TODAY

Fire Talk Podcast: Dax McCarty returns to his old home

In this episode of the Fire Talk Podcast, Dan Santaromita and Shane Murray (MLSsoccer.com) recap the Fire's 3-1 loss at Toronto and look ahead to the game at the New York Red Bulls.

Dax McCarty, a former Red Bulls player, returns to his former home. Hear him talk about returning home in an interview after practice on Tuesday.

Also, Dan and Shane talk about the release of player salaries by the MLS Players Union and Bastian Schweinsteiger's visit to Fire Weekly.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Bastian Schweinsteiger says he is playing at 70 percent fitness

Bastian Schweinsteiger says he is playing at 70 percent fitness

Bastian Schweinsteiger has made a good early impression with the Chicago Fire, scoring two goals and registering an assist in four matches with his new club.

Apparently, he's also playing at only 70 percent fitness.

The German was the guest on Fire Weekly on Wednesday and said as much when Frank Klopas asked him how his match fitness is coming along.

"I would say around 70 percent," Schweinsteiger said. "It's still in the game you feel like you want to do something and you can't really do it because of the energy. I tried to of course play with my brain. My brain is 100 percent so that's working. I feel as a player if you are in a rhythm, you play 20 games in a row you have a better rhythm or feeling for the game."

Schweinsteiger dealt with injuries in his time with Manchester United and then was not selected for any Premier League matches this season.

"It's not easy for me because I was not playing so much in the past so I have to get my rhythm," Schweinsteiger said. "I try to improve myself more and more. I want to decide games, you know, so you need energy for that. I'm trying in every single training session to do a little bit more and to come to 100 percent, to reach that."

The Fire lost 3-1 at Toronto on Saturday, which was both Schweinsteiger's first road game in MLS and his first loss with the Fire. After the match he complained to the refs about some calls that were made and voiced more of that frustration also in the interview.

"Of course I don't like to lose so for me in Toronto I was not so happy about the result and some decisions which were made, but we still have to develop our game to ask for these kind of playoff spots or to be No. 1 maybe in the Eastern Conference," he said.

Schweinsteiger added that legendary German player Franz Beckenbauer, who played for the New York Cosmos in the old North American Soccer League, traveled with Bayern Munich for some Champions League games and told Schweinsteiger about playing in America.

"We had time to talk about life and soccer and everything," Schweinsteiger said of Beckenbauer. "He was telling me that his best time was actually when he was playing in America. So he was saying if you have a chance, do it. I have to say he was right."

Watch the full interview in the video below:

In other Schweinsteiger news, he also had some fun with Argentine teammate Luis Solignac. Schweinsteiger recorded a video on Solignac's phone saying the score of the 2014 World Cup final. Schwensteiger played in that game for Germany, which beat Argentina 1-0.