Even if it is the underdog, the Chicago Fire isn't going to give up on its best hope for a championship this season.
The team that has more draws in MLS play than wins and losses combined won't give short shrift to its U.S. Open Cup semifinal today against the Seattle Sounders, coach Frank Yallop said. The Fire intends to win.
Scouting the Fire: The Fire will be without forward Mike Magee, suspended for this U.S. Open Cup semifinal. The Fire would love to follow Sunday's 1-0 MLS victory against New York by advancing to the USOC championship match at either Philadelphia or Dallas.
Scouting the Seattle Sounders: The Sounders have the best record in MLS and have some of the best attackers in the United States in Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Gonzalo Pineda, Kenny Cooper, Lamar Neagle and former Fire midfielder Marco Pappa. Seattle can be vulnerable defensively.
Next: at Montreal Impact, 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Stade Saputo
-- Orrin Schwarz
"I hate to use the old cliche, but we're going to take each game as it comes along," Yallop said Tuesday on a conference call from Seattle.
"I'm putting out a team to win a game tomorrow night, so we won't be weakened for sure."
Still, it must be tempting for Yallop to bench some of his starters. They haven't had much time to rest over the last six weeks, and despite all the ties they're just 2 points out of a playoff spot heading into Saturday's match at league bottom-feeder Montreal.
Seattle is a long way from Montreal, and not just geographically. The Sounders have the best record in MLS, a potent attack and the best homefield advantage in the country, though this game has been moved from CenturyLink Field.
"We're playing a team that's going to get after us," Yallop said. "They're at home, they're a good team, they're playing in the semifinals of the Cup as well. And they're top of the division."
Despite 13 ties in MLS play this season, the Fire knows that result won't happen today. If necessary, the teams will play an extra 30 minutes and penalty kicks to decide who meets the winner of Tuesday's FC Dallas-Philadelphia match in the final.
"They've going to be obviously favorites because they're at home and they're a good side," Yallop said of the Sounders, "but we're going in here feeling very confident that we can come out with a victory. There's no other way of doing it. And I think I've seen a difference in our mentality over the last two, three, four, five games, since the San Jose debacle. I think it woke us all up, and it woke me up and it woke up the team."
Waiting for Jermaine:
Yallop sounds like he's about done waiting for Jermaine Jones to decide if he wants to come to Chicago.
"We're kind of getting to that point, to let you know," Yallop said, saying talks were at a "stalemate" with the 32-year-old U.S. midfielder. "At some point you've got to move on."
Up front about forward help:
The Fire lacks depth at forward, with only recent pickup Matthew Fondy available off the bench lately. But the Fire was never a possibility for Alan Gordon, traded to the Los Angeles Galaxy this week from Yallop's former team, the San Jose Earthquakes, for allocation money.
The Fire has no allocation money to trade, Yallop said.
"Alan's always deep in my heart," Yallop said. "He was fantastic for me in San Jose. ... I think him moving to L.A. is the best thing for him at this point."
• Follow Orrin's soccer reports on Twitter@Orrin_Schwarz.