Sounders lackluster defending costly in 2-1 loss to Chicago Fire

The  defending Major League Soccer Champions chances of winning the MLS is Back Tournament took a major blow Tuesday with a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire. The Sounders draw 0-0 in their first game against the San Jose Earthquakes meaning Tuesdays game against Chicago was a must win game.  The Tuesday morning game had a scheduled 6:00 am PST  kick off time. Yes that was no misprint. The early wake call played a factor in the Sounders performance.

The Sounders were lethargic and slow-footed and hand just enough luck to find themselves in a goalless draw at halftime. Five minutes into the second half the Sounders luck ran out when  Chicago forward Robert Beric was left wide open during a corner kick and the Slovenian forward slammed home a shot to give Chicago the 1-0 lead.

The Sounders showed their mettle when Handwala Bawana equalized in the 77th minute after receiving an exquisite pass from Jordan Morris. Unfortunately for the Sounders the energy and determination from the goal were short-lived. The team went back to its sleepwalking mode and the result was a momentary lapse of concentration that resulted in a  game-winning goal in the 84th minute by defender   Mauricio Pineda. In short, the heartbreaking goal put the Sounders in the bottom of the group with just one game to pay. This means Bawana and the rest of the Sounders have a big mountain to climb if they are to progress in the tournament.

The Rave Green will conclude , group stage play on July 19 versus Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. PT, with national television coverage being provided by FS1 The top two teams from each group along with the four best third-place finishers are will move on to the knockout stage, which begins July 25.

GAME NOTES

  • Following today’s loss in the MLS is Back Tournament, Seattle now sits in third place in Group B (one point), with Chicago moving into first place (three points). Aiming to claim one of the top two spots to advance to the knockout stage of tournament, Seattle closes out group play on Sunday, July 19 versus Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7:30 p.m. PT / FS1, TUDN). The top two teams from each group – along with the four best third-place finishers – move on to the knockout stage, which begins July 25.
  • Tuesday’s result moves Sounders FC’s record against Chicago to 9-3-4 all-time in MLS regular season action. The Rave Green also won the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against the Men in Red. Today’s loss snapped a three-match unbeaten run (2-0-1) for Seattle and gave Fire FC its win in the series since 2017.
  • With his goal in the 77th minute of play, Homegrown Player Handwalla Bwana notched his fourth professional strike in three MLS seasons. Tuesday’s match was the University of Washington product’s first game minutes of 2020, as he entered the match for Miguel Ibarra in the 59th minute of play. He played in 15 regular season games in 2019 (six starts), notching two goals and one assist.
  • Fellow Homegrown Player Jordan Morris notched his first assist of 2020 on Bwana’s goal, good for his 13th career MLS assist (including postseason play).
  • Signed as the 16th Homegrown signing in club history on June 30, Shandon Hopeau made his first MLS start on Tuesday. Hopeau recorded 45 minutes on the right side of midfield, making way for Jordan Morris at the halftime intermission. The Hawaii native was signed following successful runs with both Tacoma Defiance and the Sounders FC Academy. Last season in USL play, Hopeau made 28 league appearances, starting a career-high 25 matches for Tacoma, recording additional career bests in goals (5) and assists (4).
  • Though only the club’s fourth overall match of 2020 – its second in Orlando in the MLS is Back Tournament – Seattle had already faced Chicago this calendar year. That first meeting came in a 2-1 win against the Fire on March 1 at CenturyLink Field to open the season prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. A Jordan Morris brace canceled out a Robert Beric strike in that contest.

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