Seattle (9-3-2) at Chicago (2-3-8), 8:30 p.m.
Bridgeview, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Fire faces a big test at Toyota Park on Saturday when the team welcomes Seattle Sounders FC to the Windy City.
Seattle enters the match with the best record in MLS, while the Fire owns just two wins from 13 games so far this term.
And to make matters worse, the Fire will be facing Seattle just three days after a 0-0 draw in Colorado on Wednesday night.
In that match Chicago failed to put a shot on goal against the Rapids, although goalkeeper Sean Johnson felt pleased with the result considering the busy schedule for his team.
"I think it was very important for us to get a shutout, especially in a tough game on the road in a tough stretch with three games. Coming off a Sunday game, it's not easy to play and then travel, especially at altitude, so it was really important for us," said Johnson. "I'm happy for everybody, not just the defenders in front of me but all the guys on the field that worked over 90 minutes to grind."
The Fire will once again need to grind against the Sounders, who will be full of confidence after a resounding 4-0 win over previously unbeaten Real Salt Lake last weekend.
That victory moved Seattle five points clear at the top of the Western Conference, and Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid was just pleased to see his team turn in such a strong performance and gain a bit of separation at the top.
"Right now, we're not about sending messages. We're in first place. We wanted to hold on to first place. We talked about creating some separation there," Schmid said after the match. "As a group we are maturing and being able to step into a game between a first place team and a second place team and win and to have a convincing result speaks volumes for our character."
The win was even more impressive because it came without both Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin, who are away on World Cup duty with the United States national team.
"It's not only our depth. I think it's our spirit," Schmid said when asked how his team is able to cope without two key players. "The guys like each other. The guys work hard for each other. The guys battle for each other. And it doesn't matter who's out there on the field."
Seattle has lost only once in its last 10 games, and the team is hoping to enter the World Cup break with another three points to remain firmly entrenched at the top of the league.