For more than 90 minutes Saturday, the Seattle Sounders survived 15 shots and plenty of their own mistakes, and seemed on their way to picking up a point on the road.
However, that changed in second-half stoppage time when Chicago concluded an end-to-end counter with a Jason Johnson goal that gave the Fire a 1-0 win at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Johnson finished strongly into the far post after making a nice inside cut that increased his shooting angle.
But the Sounders also were left with plenty to regret along the way, from the basic of not stopping the counter with a foul, Micheal Ariza leaving Johnson at just the wrong time, and Chad Marshall allowing Johnson’s late cut inside.
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“I thought overall Chicago was the better team,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “We did a good job of defending and holding on there. I thought (Troy) Perkins played well in goal. … I thought Marshall and Zach Scott made a couple of big plays as well.
“We needed to be smart enough to get through and hold on to a zero-zero at the end of the day.”
It was the Sounders’ (10-8-2) fourth loss in their past five games. For Chicago (5-9-3), it was the first win over Seattle in 10 MLS meetings.
The Sounders once again played without stars and starters Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Brad Evans and Marco Pappa.
And for the first time since the final match of 2013, they also were without starting goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who suffered a shoulder injury the previous weekend.
He was replaced by Perkins, who stopped the first five shots the Fire put on target, sometimes acrobatically.
“I thought Troy was good,” Schmid said. “He stepped up. That’s why we signed him. He had to play tonight. Stefan’s been playing well, but I thought Troy had a very, very good game.”
The absences have taken a particular toll on the attacking end.
Dempsey and Martins are the Sounders’ goals leaders with seven each. Dempsey is the assists leader with six.
Without them on the field over the last five matches, Seattle has scored a total of two goals while being shut out three times. The Sounders are 1-4 over the stretch.
“Offensively we didn’t play well enough,” Schmid said. “If we hold on to the ball more, then we naturally relieve the pressure. So it’s our offense that hurt us.”
The Sounders return home to face the Colorado Rapids next Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
Frei could return for that match, and newly acquired midfielder Eric Friberg might be ready to play.
But the other missing players are expected to be out again.
“It’s not easy when you’re losing,” Perkins said. “When you’re missing guys and you’re winning, you don’t think about it. Certainly, now you’re thinking about that. But you know, no one is coming back any time soon. We have to turn around now and figure out a way to win.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808