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Sounders Hang On To Pick Up Big Road Win In Chicago

The Seattle Sounders picked up their first road win of the season against a tough Chicago Fire team, with David Estrada and Eddie Johnson providing the goals. Marco Pappa's improbable, wind-aided, direct-from-corner Olympico goal made for a nervous ending, but the Sounders defense held firm through six-plus minutes of added time. The ending of the game was marred by a scuffle between players from each side, and there will be some concern of possible repercussions from the league office. Still, Seattle will be quite happy with the win, which gives them 13 points through 6 games, continuing the best-ever MLS-era start for the club.

Chicago had the better of the chances in the first half, but it was Estrada scoring a deflection-aided goal (his fifth on the season) in the 39th minute that saw the scoreline at 1-0 to Seattle heading into the half. Seattle's defense was once again tremendous, dispatching wave-after-wave of dangerous looking counter attacks from the Fire. Michael Gspurning was a dominant presence in the box once again, and given that the Fire were awarded 12 corner kicks his ability to control his area was of major benefit to his team. Sigi Schmid made what appeared to be a defensive substitution in the 50th minute, bringing on Marc Burch in place of Mauro Rosales. Despite the switch, Seattle continued to threaten and added a second in the 67th minute when Sean Johnson spilled a tricky Fredy Montero free kick and Eddie Johnson opened his Sounders account on the rebound. There was a bit of a scare after the goal as the Fire keeper landed awkwardly on Johnson's ankle, but after receiving treatment and a brief spell on the sideline the Seattle striker was able to return, playing all but the five minutes of stoppage time.

The Sounders were then content to soak up and dispatch with the pressure, but that plan went a bit awry at the death when Pappa's corner hung up in the air and evaded Gspurining's grasp. The somewhat flukish goal broke Seattle's 366-minute spell without a goal allowed, but the Sounders have still not allowed a goal from the run of play since the first game of the season. The game had something of a controversial ending even before the aforementioned altercation following the final whistle; Eddie Johnson made a very slow exit from the field after being subbed off and was shown a yellow card for his time wasting. What had originally been announced as 4 minutes of added time stretched on an extra 2+ minutes, with Johnson's slow exit the likely cause of referee Michael Kennedy's decision to allow play to drag on. The Fire were on the attack for the majority of those 6 minutes, and it took some last-ditch defending and quality saves from Michael Gspurning to preserve the win.

The Sounders now stand at 4-1-1, good for 13 points and 4th in the Western Conference (with at least two games in hand over all of the teams above them.) The team's fast start will be crucial, as the grind really gets underway this coming month; the Galaxy come to town on Wednesday with the Union right on their tail on Saturday. That's just the beginning of a busy month of May that will see the Sounders playing twice per week every week of the month. That will be the true test of Seattle's depth, and grinding out an away win against a quality Fire team will be helpful in heading into the slog on a high note.