Sounders Insider

Sounders vs. Fire (of 2009 and 1998)

That's kind of the point of my story for the Saturday paper: That these Sounders might actually have more of a rivalry with the ghosts of the 1998 Chicago Fire than they do with the current team they'll be playing at Toyota Field.

1998 was Chicago's first season in the league, and the Fire achieved MLS immortality by immediately winning the Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup. So whenever anyone mentions these Sounders' so-far successful expansion season, that success is largely weighed against the standard set by that 1998 team from Chicago.

However, that question may never be settled. What is upon us is the Saturday game. And that one has its own interests.

Most of all, what to make of the Fire? They seem to be a pair of superstars surrounded by a hive of worker bees. And what to make of that 2-0-4 record: Are they to be praised as MLS' only unbeaten team, or dismissed as a side that hasn't won in almost a month?

A quick look ahead:

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-2-0; 12 pts.)

AT CHICAGO FIRE (2-0-4; 10 pts.)

5:30 p.m. Saturday, Toyota Park (20,000/120x75/grass), Bridgeview, Ill.

KONG 6/16.

Radio: 97.3 FM, and in Spanish on 1210 AM.

Head to head: This is the first meeting. The Fire will visit Seattle on July 25.

Statistical leaders: For Seattle, G: 3 Fredy Montero; A: 3 Osvaldo Alonso; SH: 18 Montero; SOG: 6 Montero. For Chicago, G: 5 Brian McBride; A: 2 three players tied; SH: 18 Marco Pappa; SOG: 19 McBride.

Coach Sigi Schmid scouting report: "(Forward Brian) McBride is a quality experienced center forward. (Forward/midfielder Cuauhtemoc) Blanco is a difficult guy because he doesn't really play a set position -- he's all over the place, so he's hard to pick up. And the other eight guys work their rear ends off. They're a good, hard-working team that has had a full year together pretty much as a group and they know their roles."

Notes: Freddie Ljungberg practiced with his teammates Friday and joined them on their early afternoon flight to Chicago. He had been excused over the past week so that he could attend his grandmother's funeral in Sweden. ... Chicago has played to three consecutive draws but remains the only unbeaten team in MLS. … The Fire has scored the most goals in MLS (12), while the Sounders have allowed the fewest (three). Kasey Keller hasn't allowed a goal over the 389 minutes he has played this season. The Fire has allowed seven goals over its last three games. … This game pairs the first two players of the month of this MLS season: Montero won the award in March, McBride in April. McBride also leads the MLS Golden Boot standings with five goals, including three over his last two games. … Chicago returns 21 of the 24 players from their 13-10-7 team of last season, including MLS Best XI selections Blanco, Bakary Soumare and goalkeeper of the year Jon Busch. … Both teams played mid-week non-league games. Seattle beat Real Salt Lake in a U.S. Open Cup play Tuesday, while Chicago lost 2-1 in a friendly against Club America. … This is the first of three road games over the next four matches for Seattle.

Next: Noon May 10, Los Angeles Galaxy, Qwest Field; KONG 6/16. Sold out.