SEATTLE – Everything that the visitors would hope to become was on display for them thanks to the hosts on Sunday afternoon.
In front of a large crowd at Centurylink Field, the Seattle Sounders held their ceremony recognizing a 2019 Major League Soccer championship season. From the carrying of the trophy to midfield to the unveiling of a banner, loyal fans of the club enjoyed a memorable moment as they begin their title defense in 2020.
Meanwhile, new owner Joe Mansueto, new head coach Raphael Wicky, and a mostly new Chicago Fire FC roster watched all of this in a much different position. They’re in the midst of a new beginning, from their logo to their personnel, in hopes of reaching the level to which the Sounders currently find themselves in the MLS.
It’s the start of an extensive rebuilding of the franchise’s image and play that makes this upcoming campaign a transformative one for the Fire in a number of ways.
Yet this afternoon, the teams on the pitch were close to equal for the better part of 90 minutes to start this new MLS season. The visitors even got on the board first and held off a number of pushes from the home team that kept the contest tied into stoppage time.
But after a missing a few chances earlier in the second half, the Sounders connected for the winning goal in the 93rd minute to pick up a 2-1 victory. Jordan Morris’ header into an open side of the net would be the winner, denying the Fire a morale-boosting point against the defending champs.
Wicky tried to keep things positive after his first MLS game as a head coach, but he couldn’t hide some disappointment in the opportunity missed.
“It’s the hard side of this game, obviously, to concede the losing goal in minute 92 or 93, but overall it was a very good performance from the team.,” said Wicky. “There are a lot of positives to build on. But obviously we’re very disappointed to have lost.”
There were times where it seemed as if the result would have been much different, as the Fire had a pair of first half goals disallowed due to offsides calls. Scoreless at the break, the visitors got on the board in the opening moments of the second half as Robert Beric scored his first goal with the team to make it 1-0.
Seattle would then put pressure on after that, testing the Fire defense on a number of occasions. The Sounders had an equalizing goal taken away, but Jordan Morris tapped in a cross in 62nd minute to even the score at one. Twice more after that, Seattle forwards had shots at open nets on the break, but each time couldn’t convert.
The Sounders would come through when it counted, however, just as champions do. Chicago Fire FC showed potential to do something in their first season of a new era, but as the end result showed, there’s plenty of room to grow over the rest of 2020.