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Late Seattle goal pushes Sounders past Fire

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Late Seattle goal pushes Sounders past Fire

Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010
6:15 AM

Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP)Fredy Montero scored two goals, including a header during second-half stoppage time that gave the Seattle Sounders a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.

Montero, who has 10 goals this season, pulled the Sounders (9-8-5, 32 points) even at 1 in the 36th minute. It was the 10th time in 11 games that Montero has tallied either a goal or an assist for Seattle, which ran its unbeaten streak to seven games (4-0-3) since at 3-1 loss at Los Angeles on July 4.

John Thorrington gave the Fire (6-7-6, 24 points) the early lead in the 28th minute when he converted a penalty kick.

Nathan Sturgis set up Monteros game winner with a perfectly placed target ball from the right sideline. Montero, playing inside the 6-yard box at the far post, nodded it past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson into the back center of the net.

It was a very big goal. Weve been dreaming about this chance of getting a goal so late in the game, Montero said. It was an excellent ball from Sturgisall the credit to him. It gave us three points and put us closer to the playoffs.

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid made sure Montero got some of that credit, too.

I think he has played games that were as good, Schmid said. But certainly, I think his motivation tonight was good, and obviously, his finishing was good when he had the two chances.

Seattle took over sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Colorado. Chicago fell to fifth in the Eastern Conference. The Sounders climbed back above .500 for the first time since April 22.

Its all about us gathering points, and were now at a level where we have 32 points in 22 games, Schmid said. So were getting close to that average of 1 12 -point average per game that we need (to make the playoffs).

Thorrington put the Fire on top when he beat Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller on a spot kick into the back right corner. A hand ball call on Seattle defender Jeff Parke set up the PK.

Montero tied it for the Sounders 8 minutes later. Seattle defender Tyson Wahl saved the ball from going out on the left sideline, regained control and sent a cross into the box for Montero. With two Chicago defenders around him, Montero got around both and, from 12 yards away on the right side, beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson to the back left corner.

The game marked the return to Seattle of Swedish international and former English Premier League star Freddie Ljungberg since he was traded by the Sounders to the Fire on July 30.

Ljungberg played all 90 minutes at forward and was greeted initially with a mixture of cheers and boos, but then was booed for the rest of the game whenever he touched the ball.

I was happy with the reception I got, because you never know, said Ljungberg, who was one of the first players signed by the Sounders prior to their 2009 expansion season. People on the street were wishing me well and wishing me good luck. There were no angry words of any kind.

Fire coach Carlos de los Cabos was frustrated with another late-game loss. Last Saturday, Chicago dropped a 4-3 decision to Houston on a Dynamo goal in the 85th minute.

I think our team played good. It was a shame, with what is happening with the last couple of matches, us losing in the final few minutes, de los Cabos said. Part of the time, its maturing of some players. The young players are learning.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

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USA TODAY

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

Bastian Schweinsteiger has delivered on the promise of a big name star since joining the Fire in late March. He has produced on the field, drawn lots of attention to the club, the team has won enough to get into its first postseason since 2012 and, until recently, he stayed healthy.

However, the 33-year-old German has played 19 minutes in the previous six matches and told reporters on Wednesday that he will not play in the regular season finale in Houston on Sunday. He missed four straight matches with a calf injury before returning against New York City FC on Sept. 30 for a substitute appearance.

Schweinsteiger left practice early with what appeared to be a reaggravation of the injury on Oct. 4 and now it is known that will cost him at least two games. With the playoff picture still in flux (the Fire can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the Eastern Conference), the Fire could potentially face a three-day turnaround and travel after the Houston game or could have a first-round bye. Keeping Schweinsteiger fresher for that crunch of games could end up being a good thing, but it also runs the risk of his match fitness not being at 100 percent for the postseason.

Beyond the postseason, Schweinsteiger dropped this tease of a nugget to the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz just an hour before Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez spoke with reporters for almost an hour at Toyota Park.

Schweinsteiger, who was not at training, was autographing memorabilia in the form of soccer balls, posters and jerseys. Chicago Red Stars fans may get a kick out of the fact that Schweinsteiger was wearing a Red Stars hoodie.

Initially, the club said Schweinsteiger signed a one-year contract with a mutual option. Later in the day, when asked about Schweinsteiger's future, Rodriguez said the mutual option doesn't have a set number attached to it.

"That would require a negotiation," Rodriguez said. "It was mutual in a sense of we didn’t want either party to feel bound without having had the year of experience to draw on. From our perspective, our experience has been extraordinarily positive with Bastian. We think he’s delivered across all of our expectations and we hope that we have delivered against his expectations.”

So in essence, there is no mutual option. Schweinsteiger and the Fire have to come to terms again on a deal for the German to return in 2018. That's not to say Schweinsteiger can't come back, but there's nothing in writing that binds the two together for next season.

Rodriguez said talks have only begun in the very preliminary stages at this point.

“The most that Basti and I have done is, both said, hey this has gone pretty well." Rodriguez said. "You like it. I like it... So I think we want to remain with our original plan. It was to look to have the hard discussions at the end of the season. My view is in-season negotiations always prove to be a distraction, whether to the player or to me. There can be a team element if it becomes public.

"I don’t want to speak for Basti, but from what we’ve gleaned and what he shared with us, he and (wife) Ana (Ivanovic) are very comfortable in the city. They love it. I think he’s really enjoyed the locker room, the guys, the support of the fans. I think he’s really taken to the challenge of Major League Soccer. I think the signs are positive, but again we would prefer to have the season close before finalizing anything.”

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

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AP

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

It's a special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast!

Dan Santaromita, Justin O’Neil, JJ Stankevitz and Tom Cooper try to answer all the questions that surfaced after the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup. What went wrong in qualifying, who was at fault, what can be fixed, will things get better? Has any American soccer fan calmed down even a week after? The four on the panel sure still are plenty fired up.