Fire, Sounders face off as both push for playoffs

League: MLS

Posted on: 29 Jun, 2024 at 02:15 AM

Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams focused on making strong playoff pushes face off on Saturday when the Seattle Sounders host the Chicago Fire.

Seattle (6-7-7, 25 points) comes into the contest right below the playoff line in 10th place in the Western Conference despite earning seven of a possible nine points over a recent eight-day stretch. The Sounders are tied with the ninth-place Vancouver Whitecaps in points but have played two more matches.

Chicago (4-9-6, 18 points), meanwhile, is in last place in a tightly bunched Eastern Conference but is just three points behind Atlanta United for the final playoff spot.

The Fire, who are just 1-4-4 on the road, had a four-match unbeaten streak, which included wins over Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy, snapped with a 4-2 loss at Orlando City on June 22. Chicago fell behind 3-0 in the first 29 minutes.

"We can't start games or go on the road and be in a situation where we're (down) 3-0 in the first half," Fire coach Frank Klopas said. "It's extremely difficult to come back from results like that. ... Normally, for me, if you score two goals in a match, you should be able to get a result."

One bright spot for the Fire was that forward Hugo Cuypers, who leads the team with seven goals, scored in his fourth straight match.

Meanwhile, Seattle rallied from a 2-0 deficit for the second time in four days to pick up points, defeating visiting FC Dallas 3-2 on June 22.

The Sounders, who rallied for a 2-2 draw at Houston on June 19, got goals from Raul Ruidiaz in the 78th minute last Saturday followed by a brace by Jordan Morris, including the game-winner four minutes into stoppage time.

"It's a big result. That's what it really comes down to," Morris said. "Obviously, I'm happy to get on the scoresheet but we needed that win."

The match with Chicago is the second during a crucial three-game homestand for the Sounders, who have lost just once (3-1-5) in nine home matches. Seattle then hosts the New England Revolution on July 6.

"We're definitely playing better," Morris said. "We made it a goal of ours the second half of the season to push up the table because we know we have the quality to compete for a trophy."

--Field Level Media