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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sounders rally once again, top Fire behind two scores for Albert Rusnak

By Jayda Evans Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Comebacks aren’t a reliable strategy, but they’re working for a Sounders club desperate to make something of their 50th anniversary season.

Seattle-born Paul Rothrock was key, again, subbing on in the second half and earning his hometown team a penalty. Teammate Jordan Morris cultivated another penalty in second-half stoppage time, and midfielder Albert Rusnak knocked home each from the spot for a 2-1 win against the Chicago Fire FC.

The Fire have never won at Lumen Field, going 0-6-2 since Seattle joined MLS in 2009.

Saturday is the third consecutive match where the Sounders rallied from a deficit to either draw or win. Rothrock had a second-half goal to help the Sounders draw on the road against Houston after being down 2-0 entering halftime earlier this month. Seattle had three goals in the closing 16 minutes to beat FC Dallas 3-2 at Lumen last week.

After a dull opening half that made it understandable why many of the 30,045 announced as in attendance weren’t physically there, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer subbed off defender Alex Roldan for Rothrock at halftime.

Rothrock was a jolt of energy and technical savvy. He tried to get on the end of a Morris cross in the 55th minute. Chicago defender Jonathan Dean tugged at the back of Rothrock’s jersey, dragging him out of position to get a touch in the box.

Referee Joe Dickerson didn’t signal for a penalty. VAR flagged the play for review and Dickerson changed his position, showing Dean a yellow card in the 56th minute and awarding Seattle a penalty.

Rusnak slotted home the equalizer in the 57th minute.

Rothrock nearly earned the team another penalty for a Fire handball. After Dickerson’s review, the judgment was nullified.

But the Sounders (7-7-7) found it difficult to find a game-winner as rain started to pour and lights at Lumen Field flickered in the 83rd minute. The eight minutes of stoppage time were the moment.

Morris looked to make a play in the box and was clipped by Mauricio Pineda. The penalty was award, Rusnak easily getting the ball past Chicago keeper Chris Brady in the 93rd minute. Rusnak took off his shirt and twirled it in the air to celebrate. Dickerson showed him a yellow card for poor sportsmanship.

Maren Haile-Selassie started to test Sounders keeper Stefan Frei in the fifth minute. The Fire midfielder was able to get behind Seattle’s defenders to take a shot in the center of the penalty box, Frei using a kick save to deny the attempt.

Frei wasn’t as crafty when the duo faced off about 20 minutes later. The Sounders had a series of sloppy passes on the right side of the field and Gaston Gimenez was able to feed Haile-Selassie, who nutmegged defender Jackson Ragen to get a look at goal.

This time, Haile-Selassie sliced a right-footed shot past Frei to give Chicago a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute.

Fire coach Frank Klopas had to go to his bench in the 39th minute to sub off defender Carlos Teran for Pineda. Teran immediately grabbed his left hamstring after a duo with Morris and needed on-field attention before leaving the match.

The Sounders couldn’t retain possession of the ball until later in the half. The best opportunity for an equalizer was Morris’ shot in first-half stoppage time. Brady stretched to make the save at the near post.

Sounders midfielder Pedro de la Vega subbed on in the 76th minute, marking his first appearance since a draw against Vancouver in May. The young designated player was limited to 103 minutes this season due to a pair of hamstring injuries.

Seattle played without leading scorer Raul Ruidiaz (eight goals) and defender Nouhou. Schmetzer called it a “coach’s decision,” banning the players from team activities last week. Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said both were upset with a lack of playing time, getting into an argument with Schmetzer after the Dallas win.

Ruidiaz hasn’t started the past three matches. Nouhou was replaced in the starting lineup by Reed Baker-Whiting.

Alex Roldan returned to his spot at right back. He missed the Dallas win due to being under concussion protocol.

Seattle will close its three-game homestand against New England on July 6.