clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Secret Rivals: Chicago Fire vs Seattle Sounders MLS Week 21 Preview.

The Fire and Sounders have quite a history

Seattle Sounders FC v Chicago Fire FC - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The last time the Chicago Fire played the Seattle Sounders was during the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament. You’d think that there’s not much in way of rivalry between the two squads with how infrequently they play each other, but there’s secretly a pretty heated rivalry between Seattle and Chicago.

The Sounders were the team that denied the Fire their last best chance at hardware, beating them in the final of the 2011 US Open Cup, not only preventing the Fire from tying Maccabee LA and Bethlehem Steel atop the most Cup wins list, but they also clinched their 3rd Cup title in a row.

They also entered the league with a fanfare that rubbed a lot of long-time MLS fans, Fire fans included the wrong way. There was a feeling that the people in charge that the league was leaving the teams and the fans that had built the league and guided it through the tough times of the early to mid-2000s behind. There was a lot of ill-will toward the Sounders and their fans because of that.

There’s also been a lot of player movement between the two clubs. From the Fire trading for Freddy Ljungberg in 2010 and El Flaco coming to the lakefront to Jovin Jones and Harry Shipp ending up in Washington, there’s been a fair number of players to wear the red and white and the rave green.

This is secretly one of the best rivalries in MLS, and we’re ready for a new chapter.

Honestly, I also wanted to post the Mario TIFO again, because it’s the best display in the league's history.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Seattle Sounders: 3W-4D-9L, 18 GF / 23 GA, 16 pts out of 48

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Seattle Sounders: 2W-2D-4L, 11 GF / 12 GA, 8 pts out of 24

Previously on…

The Sounders are in an interesting spot as a club. They’re coming off both the biggest achievement of any club in the history of MLS, and are struggling to stay in the playoff race. They’re currently a point behind 7th place LA Galaxy and have lost their last two games against Portland and Nashville. That put them in a situation where they’ve lost three of their last 5 games with their wins coming against Toronto and Sporting Kansas City— two teams that are as bad or worse than the Fire, record-wise.

Suggested Lineup

Jonathan Bornstein shouldn’t play back to back on short rest at this point in his career, and both Reynolds and him have passed Miguel Navarro on the depth chart in my eyes. Navarro is too reckless and is liable to make the same mistakes in coverage over and over again. So even if he’s not suspended anymore after his red card, he should remain on the bench.

Gaston Gimenez is free from yellow card suspension and should come back into the lineup as well. As for Xherdan Shaqiri, if his injury is bothering him to the point where he has little to no impact on the game, he shouldn’t be out there. Plus I’d like to see what kind of impact Jairo Torres has over a period of time longer than 20 minutes.

Keys To The Match

Control the Ball: One of the things I didn’t like about the Fire’s win on Wednesday was that they only had control of possession 42% of the time. That’s fine against a team like Toronto who played such a high line and was as dangerous as a kitten on attack. However, against a team like Seattle they can’t play like that. The Sounders are dangerous in transition and in possession, so the Fire are going to need to keep the ball. The return of Gaston Gimenez should help with that as that’s what he does best. But it’s imperative that everyone else, especially Fede who’s had trouble with this over the last few games, keeps the ball in the Fire’s possession.

Find the Danger Men: Even if the Sounders are having a rough go of it this year, their impact players are always dangerous. The Fire need to keep track of guys like Nico Lodeiro, Freddy Montero, and Jordan Morris at all times. They’re somewhat lucky that Raul Ruidiaz is out with a hamstring injury, but Seattle is dangerous. Give any one of these players a bit of space, and they’ll ruin your whole night. Give them even the smallest bit of space, and the ball will be in the back of the net. The Fire have to know where they are at all times and smother them so they can’t do anything.

How To Watch

Time: 7:08PM

Television: WGN-TV

Streaming: cf97 Live/ cf97 App

Final Thoughts

Bet MGM actually has the Fire as favorites at +115 compared to a draw at +240 and a Sounders win at +210. There’s money to be made here if you’re into that kind of thing because the Sounders should walk away with at least a point here. The Fire aren’t developed enough for a game like this yet. 3-2 Sounders.