Preview: Fire look for repeat performance against Quakes

Four days after meeting in northern California, the Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes play the back end of their unique home-and-home series when the clubs face off at Toyota Park. On Tuesday, the teams played a U.S. Open Cup match, the Fire advancing to the tournament proper on penalty kicks. The Fire haven’t won in eight league games; the Quakes are coming off back-to-back league wins at home.

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REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Brian Poeschel; JAR (opposite): Peter Balciunas; 4th: Allen Chapman MLS Career: 107 games; FC/gm: 27.2; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 18; pens: 25

INJURY REPORT: CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: MF Mike Banner (L Achilles tendinitis); DF Steven Kinney (R Achilles repair); MF Patrick Nyarko (concussion); DOUBTFUL: MF Marko Maric (L deltoid sprain/talar dome contusion); QUESTIONABLE: DF Josip Mikulic (L biceps subluxation); MF Michael Videira (concussion symptoms); PROBABLE: FW Diego Chaves (R foot contusion) …

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – OUT: MF Simon Dawkins (R/L bilateral fasciotomy); MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DOUBTFUL: DF Tim Ward (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Scott Sealy (L hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Daniel Paladini, Gonzalo Segares
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Diego Chaves, Dominic Oduro … SJ: Sam Cronin

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (28 meetings): Fire 12 wins (0 shootout), 41 goals … Earthquakes 7 wins (1 shootout), 28 goals … Ties 9
AT CHICAGO (14 meetings): Fire 7 wins (0 shootout), 25 goals … Earthquakes 2 wins (1 shootout), 13 goals … Ties 5
RETURN MATCH: 9/10: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. PT

LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/10: CHI 1, SJ 2 (Pappa 52 – Alvarez 49; Opara 81)
9/29: SJ 0, CHI 3 (Kinney 39; Ljungberg 72; Nyarko 90)
• A year ago, the road teams won both meetings, the Quakes winning 2-1 in Bridgeview in April before the Fire repaid them with a 3-0 triumph in September in Santa Clara.
• For the Earthquakes, it was their first win at Chicago since 1999, a shootout victory following a 2-2 draw. Before the 2-1 win in Bridgeview last year, the Quakes had never defeated Chicago in regulation time on the road.
• Coaches record: Carlos de los Cobos vs. PHI: P2 W1 L1 D0 … Frank Yallop v CHI: P16 W3 L7 D6

U.S. OPEN CUP
• The teams met Tuesday in a play-in game in the U.S. Open Cup at Buck Shaw Stadium, the Fire advancing on penalty kicks after the teams played to a 2-2 draw. Ellis McLoughlin and Justin Morrow put the Earthquakes two goals by halftime, but goals from Orr Barouch and Yamith Cuesta completed the comeback for the visitors.
• The Fire played the final 22 minutes of extra time a man down after Gonzalo Segares was sent off. In the penalty shootout, Daniel Paladini converted the Fire’s fifth kick in the sixth round, then when Scott Sealy hit the crossbar, the Fire had earned a place in the tournament proper round-of-16.
• SAN JOSE: Andrew Weber; Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Brandon McDonald, Ramiro Corrales; Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Steven Lenhart 83), Sam Cronin, Brad Ring (Khari Stephenson 71), Justin Morrow; Ellis McLoughlin (Scott Sealy 46), Chris Wondolowski.
• CHICAGO: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba (Dominic Oduro 46), Yamith Cuesta, Dasan Robinson (Cory Gibbs 88), Gonzalo Segares; Bratislav Ristic, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause, Marco Pappa; Cristian Nazarit, Gaston Puerari (Orr Barouch 46).

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire saw their winless streak stretched to eight games in a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at PPL Park. The Fire have 8 points from 10 matches on the year, sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
• Union took the lead in the 64th minute when Michael Farfan took a pass from Kyle Nakazawa on a free kick from the left flank, and struck a low, driving shot from outside the box that deflected past the Fire’s Jon Conway.
• Just four minutes later, however, Fire winger Dominic Oduro rounded Farfan on the right side of the area and poked a shot past Union ’keeper Faryd Mondragón from a tight angle.
• Yet Union regained the lead in the 75th minute. After Carlos Ruiz saw his free kick blocked, he chased down the deflection and looped a high-arching shot from about 40 yards out that sailed over Conway’s head, hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced straight down over the goal line.
• Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos made two changes to the team that came back for a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field. Bratislav Ristic came in at left back for Jalil Anibaba and Baggio Husidic started in place of Gaston Puerari.
• CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-4-1): Jon Conway - Bratislav Ristic, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares - Daniel Paladini - Dominic Oduro, Baggio Husidic (Gaston Puerari 60), Corben Bone (Logan Pause 60), Marco Pappa - Diego Chaves (Orr Barouch 46).

TEAM NEWS
• The Fire’s current winless streak in league play is one game shy of the club record set June 12-July 28, 2004. The Fire haven’t won in league play since March 26.
• “There’s nothing we can do but keep our heads up,” Oduro said. “We still have a lot of games to go so you just got to keep your head up and try to fight for the little points ahead of you. Right now, we’re among the bottom on the table but at the same time we have a lot of games to go. We just have to reach out for the points and keep trying to make the playoffs.”
• While officially a draw, the Fire believe the victory on penalty kicks in the Open Cup match against San Jose could go far in starting a positive run.
• “It’s a good result and we hope to go far in this Cup. This win means a lot for our confidence. We’d tied five games and lost the last one,” said Marco Pappa. “I’m very pleased because the team is doing well again, the players are happy because we won and we hope to beat them again at home on Saturday.”
• While the Fire have allowed two goals in each of their last three games in all competitions, they were able to score twice for the second time in those three games in the Open Cup match.
• “We were trying to play direct in the first half, trying to keep possession, and they were really pressuring us,” Daniel Paladini said. “We weren’t clearing the ball well, so in the second half we decided to play the ball forward, skip a few lines and use Oduro’s speed. Pappa switched the ball well also, and we played with heart, which we didn’t do in the first half.”
• Fire captain Logan Pause was able to return to action for the first time since April 30 in the Philadelphia match, coming off the bench for a 30-minute stint after injuring a hamstring. He played the full 120 minutes in the Open Cup tie.
• The San Jose rematch could also present an interesting goalkeeper matchup. Current Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway played on two MLS Cup champions (2001, 2003) when he was with the Earthquakes, while Quakes ‘keeper Jon Busch led the Fire to the Eastern Conference Championship match in 2008 and 2009 before being released a week before the 2010 season opener.
• Neither goalkeeper played in the Open Cup match, with deputies Sean Johnson (Chicago) and Andrew Weber (San Jose) donning the gloves.
• "To be honest with you, I think we're better off playing anxiously," Conway said. "There are times when we've taken goals and been slapped in the face, and then we come back out with vigor and we're moving the ball crisper to get back into the game."

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes won for a second consecutive match at home, defeating the New England Revolution 2-1 on Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes have 12 points from 10 games on the season, sitting in a tie for seventh place in the Western Conference to start the week.

LAST MATCH
• In the 71st minute – just four minutes after coming on for Ryan Johnson – a completely unmarked Ellis McLoughlin met a Chris Wondolowski cross with a stooping header that beat Matt Reis inside the far post to give San Jose the lead.
• The Quakes doubled their lead in the 83rd minute when Bobby Convey curled in a free kick over an outstretched Reis and just inside the upper left corner of the goal.
• Just three minutes later, the Revs pulled a goal back when Chris Tierney lashed a low free kick past the wall and beyond the reach of San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
• Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop made one change to the team that rolled to a 3-0 win against the Columbus Crew at Buck Shaw Stadium. Ike Opara came into central defense for the suspended Brandon McDonald.
• SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Chris Leitch, Ike Opara, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Convey - Joey Gjertsen (Anthony Ampaipitakwong 64), Brad Ring, Khari Stephenson, Ryan Johnson (Ellis McLoughlin 67) - Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart.

TEAM NEWS
• The Earthquakes have won back-to-back league games at Buck Shaw Stadium and haven’t lost since a 1-0 defeat by Philadelphia on April. Including Open Cup play, the Quakes are 3-0-2 in their last five games (the loss on penalties is officially considered a draw).
• “These games you have to win, and I said at the start of the season we’ve got to be good at home,” Yallop said. “We started slowly at home, but it’s nice to get back-to-back wins and score some goals here at Buck Shaw. I think that the signs that we are getting a lot better come with every game.
• While the Quakes have won a pair of games since returning to Yallop’s tried-and-true 4-4-2 scheme, the New England match changed with the substitution of Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Ellis McLoughlin on the wings. The Quakes have scored five second-half goals in the past two games, after netting just one in the final 45 minutes over the first eight.
• “They possessed the ball better than us, especially in the first half. They outplayed us football-wise,” said Yallop. “I think we needed the thrust of someone like Ellis to make a difference and he did. I think him and [Ampaipitakwong] changed the game for us.”
• Another change was the role of Wondolowski, playing off striker Steven Lenhart for a fourth consecutive game as the strike pair.
• “We dropped him back a bit because we they had three central midfielders. He made a great movement to help set up the goal before serving in a terrific ball to Ellis,” Yallop said. “He is on a great run right now getting goals or assists in almost every game.”
• Said Wondolowski: “He’s a great player, and I think we are getting more and more on the same page. It’s incredible playing with him, especially the way he battles and fights for every ball. I just get to pick up the scraps and pick and choose where I want to go, which helps me a lot.
• But the Quakes will have a hole to fill for a few weeks after Wondolowski was called into the U.S. team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Winger Ryan Johnson was also called in, by Jamaica.
• “We look at his goal-scoring and think he’s just that, but he’s a good soccer player; very clean feet, good passer of the ball, very good in the air,” Yallop said of Wondolowski. “It’s great he’s on our team, that’s for sure.”