Sounders storm out early again, hang on for 4-2 victory in Chicago

Another game, another all-out Sounders assault from the opening kickoff that had their opponent in shambles.

Goals by Victor Rodriguez and Jordan Morris before Saturday’s contest was even 15 minutes old ultimately proved enough to carry the Rave Green to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire. The difference this time around was, after the initial onslaught, the Sounders added some insurance early in the second half when a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick gave them a crucial three-goal lead and some breathing room they’d badly need.

Raheem Morris broke the shutout quest on a 56thminute header and then Fabian Herbers caught the Sounders standing around in their own box in the 84thminute to cut the lead to 3-2. But Raul Ruidiaz restored the two-goal advantage in the 88thminute after a nice run down the left flank by Brad Smith.

Ruidiaz earlier in the half had whiffed on a shot attempt from deep inside the box. But this time, the Peruvian striker didn’t miss, taking an excellent Smith pass and converting his third goal of the season and his 16thgoal in 19 regular season and playoff games since joining the Sounders last July.

For the Sounders, their 3-0 start to the season is their best in a decade. They now lead all of Major League Soccer with 10 goals scored in those matches.

The Sounders for a third straight match completely overwhelmed their opponent in the opening 20 minutes. Rodriguez’s goal in the seventh minute came after Morris slid a pass across the goalmouth to the Spanish winger, who tapped it home top-shelf with his left foot.

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Just moments prior, Morris had nearly opened the scoring from close range before Chicago goalkeeper David Ousted made a sprawling hand save. But Morris made up for that in the 15thminute with a brilliant play to deaden a Lodeiro pass on-the-run, shake off a defender and then loft the ball over Ousted and into the net.

It was the third goal of the season for Morris, as many as he had the entire 2017 campaign before missing all of 2018 with a torn ACL in his knee. The Sounders should have had a third goal of their own by the 26thminute when Kelvin Leerdam got free down the right side and fired a ball past Ousted and into the net.

But the play was ruled offside, even though replays appeared to show Leerdam had kept himself ahead of the last defender. Momentum began to swing shortly after that, as the Fire – having caught their breath following the furious initial Sounders surges – began mounting some attacks of their own.

Stefan Frei had already made an earlier hand stop to keep the Fire off the scoreboard and then was at his best in the 41stminute with another leaping stop, this time off of Przemyslaw Frankowski. The Sounders headed to the locker room up 2-0, but knowing they needed more given how the Fire appeared to have righted themselves.

Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer drilled that message about needing some insurance home to his players at halftime. And it didn’t take long for them to deliver in the second half, with Lodeiro converting a penalty kick in the 49thminute after Rodriguez was hauled down in the box.

Rodriguez had completely undressed Fire star Bastien Schweinsteiger with a brilliant feint before he was fouled. Lodeiro then rattled his penalty try off the crossbar, with the ball landing beyond the goal line before bouncing back out again.

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That three-goal advantage proved fortuitous for the Sounders, since the Fire didn’t stop coming at them. Edwards was left unmarked in the box and easily headed the ball past Frei to make it a 3-1 game.

The Sounders appaered to possess the ball better after that and slowed the game’s tempo down in a bid to drain the clock. But Herbers made it a one-goal game in the dying minutes when, after being knocked the the ground following his initial shot, he was able to pick himself up unguarded and slot home his own rebound.