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Wednesday, May 22

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Fire Mon Apr 11 2011

Growing Pains Continue for Fire in Seattle

Thumbnail image for fire crest.jpgThe Chicago Fire fell Saturday for the first time this season, losing 2-1 at Seattle in front of a packed house of 36,223. The defeat puts them at 1-1-1 in MLS play so far, with a 3-2 home win against Sporting Kansas City and a 1-1 season-opening draw with FC Dallas.

Seattle opened the scoring Saturday in the seventh minute when O'Brian White beat Chicago keeper Sean Johnson near-post with a picture-perfect header.

The Fire replied a minute later with a well-orchestrated attack finished with a low cross from the right that Diego Chaves coolly directed into the left-side netting. The goal was his third of the season, making him the first Fire player to score in his first three games.

Despite a few great chances in the second half, Chicago was unable to beat former U.S. international goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Highlights of the entire game can be found here.

If your attention has been elsewhere this spring, the Fire have started out this season with hopes of returning to the playoffs. Last year was only the second time in their history that they've missed out, a feat made even more disappointing considering the generous MLS playoff structure.

Gone are the big acquisitions of last season like Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg. Also lost is U.S. international veteran and Fire legend Brian McBride, who retired after Chicago replaced their back line entirely, with head coach Carlos de los Cobos choosing to switch into a 3-5-2 formation that hopefully boosts their offensive production. It's an idea that's produced so far, with six goals in three games, but in giving up five against, the defensive side of things might need a little more work.

The Fire returns to action Thursday night, again in the Pacific Northwest, with a visit to the expansion Portland Timbers. A successful Division 2 side for many years, Portland has a fan base just as large and loud as Seattle's. The next home game is next Sunday at 3 p.m. against Landon Donovan, David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

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