Preview: Slumping Quakes look for vital win vs. surging Fire

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs CHICAGO FIRE
September 10, 2011
10:30 pm ET (CSN-BA; CSN-Chi; WATCH LIVE ONLINE)
B UCK SHAW STADIUM, Santa Clara, Calif.

The San Jose Earthquakes return home looking to put paid to their long winless run when they entertain the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes are winless now in a club record 13 games, though they came back for a late 1-1 draw at Toronto FC last time out. The Fire are coming off back-to-back wins in league play for the first time this season, their last match a 2-0 home win against the Colorado Rapids.

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REFEREE: Geoff Gamble. SAR (bench): Daniel Belleau; JAR (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: Yader Reyes. MLS Career: 7 games; FC/gm: 22.1; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 2; pens: 6

INJURY REPORT

  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – OUT: MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DF Ike Opara (L foot injury); FW Alan Gordon (surgery); FW Steven Lenhart (family leave); PROBABLE: MF Brad Ring (R shoulder sprain); MF Anthony Ampaipitakwong (L groin strain)
  • CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: MF Gabriel Ferrari (L knee ACL tear); DF Steven Kinney (lower abdominal strain); MF Marko Maric (L ankle posterior capsulitis); DOUBTFUL: DF Mike Banner (R ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Corben Bone (R knee contusion); MF Sebastian Grazzini (R hamstring tightness)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: SJ: Bobby Convey (caution accumulation; through Sept. 10) … CHI: Gonzalo Segares (caution accumulation; through Sept. 10)

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SJ: Alan Gordon, Brad Ring … CHI: Diego Chaves, Dan Gargan, Cory Gibbs, Dominic Oduro
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SJ: Bobby Burling, Sam Cronin, Jason Hernandez, Chris Leitch, Steven Lenhart … CHI: Yamith Cuesta, Cristian Nazarit, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (29 meetings): Earthquakes 7 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals … Fire 12 wins (0 shootout), 43 goals … Ties 10
  • AT SAN JOSE (14 meetings): Earthquakes 5 wins (1 shootout), 15 goals … Fire 5 wins (0 shootout), 16 goals … Ties 4
  • In their first league meeting this season, the Quakes twice took leads through Ramiro Corrales and Wondolowski, but the Fire leveled terms through Oduro and Cory Gibbs, as the teams ended in a 2-2 draw May 28 at Toyota Park.
  • The teams met five days earlier 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.
  • 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, last year’s triumph 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: Frank Yallop v CHI: P17 W3 L7 D7 … Frank Klopas vs. SJ: first game

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • 5/28: CHI 2, SJ 2 (Oduro 56, Gibbs 80 – Corrales 50, Wondolowski 74)
  • All four of the game’s goals came in a wild second half. San Jose midfielder Ramiro Corrales opened the scoring in the 50th minute when he headed home Anthony Ampaipitakwong’s corner kick at the top of the six-yard box.
  • Fire winger Dominic Oduro tied the game up just six minutes later. Cristian Nazarit hit a low shot from the top of the box which hit off both the left and right posts before rolling out, where Oduro had the easiest of tap-ins.
  • The Quakes again gained the advantage in the 74th minute. Corrales and Ampaipitakwong combined well on the right side, freeing Ampaipitakwong for a cross that expertly picked out Chris Wondolowski, who flicked his header inside the far post from the top of the six.
  • Chicago equalized again in the 80th. Cory Gibbs got on the end of substitute midfielder Baggio Husidic’s cross, putting his diving header inside the near post from the right corner of the goal area.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson – Bratislav Ristic, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares – Dominic Oduro (Gaston Puerari 81), Daniel Paladini (Baggio Husidic 76), Logan Pause, Marco Pappa – Cristian Nazarit, Diego Chaves (Orr Barouch 74).
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Ike Opara, Bobby Convey - Joey Gjertsen (Anthony Ampaipitakwong 46), Brad Ring, Khari Stephenson (Sam Cronin 68), Ramiro Corrales (Brandon McDonald 87) - Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The San Jose Earthquakes had their winless streak extended to 13 games, despite coming back for a late 1-1 draw at Toronto FC on Aug. 27 at BMO Field. The Quakes have 26 points from 24 games on the season, sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • TFC took the lead in the 33nd minute on a fortuitous bounce. A slide tackle by San Jose captain Ramiro Corrales on TFC's Peri Marosevic knocked the ball away, but right into the path of Eric Avila, and he penetrated the right side of the area before tucking a right-footed shot inside the far left post.
  • But San Jose hit for the leveler three minutes from full time. A long throw-in from the left side by second half substitute Jacob Peterson was flicked on by defender Bobby Burling to the far post, where Chris Wondolowski was wide open to turn it home.
  • Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop made two changes to the team that fell to a 2-0 defeat by the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. Chris Leitch started for the suspended Steven Beitashour, and Simon Dawkins came in for Khari Stephenson.
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Justin Morrow - Joey Gjertsen (Jacob Peterson 66), Ramiro Corrales, Rafael Baca (Matt Luzunaris 83), Bobby Convey - Chris Wondolowski, Simon Dawkins (Khari Stephenson 66).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Earthquakes put an end to a two-game losing streak with the draw in Chicago. It was the seventh time in their club-record 13-game winless streak they have come away with a single point.
  • “For some reason, maybe we stepped on a black cat or whatever the saying goes, but we don’t seem to get any kind of fortune in games,” said Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop. “We played well the last few games and we keep tying.”
  • The goal was just the third of the season in the final quarter-hour of a match by the Earthquakes, and it was the first that overturned a result for San Jose – both previous late markers (May 21 vs. New England, June 4 vs. Houston) added onto existing leads in victories.
  • “Anytime you come back from a losing position in the match and get a tie out of it, it feels good. I thought for long spells of the game we had long possession, we had great chances,” said Yallop. “Although Toronto had a couple of good breaks, but I think the general possession, the general play was good by us. I thought we deserved more out of the match.”
  • The goal for Chris Wondolowski was his first since July 20, breaking a 554-minute personal scoreless stretch. Still, Wondolowski is in a tie for fifth in the MLS Golden Boot standings, three goals behind league leader Thierry Henry.
  • “I’m very happy that he scored the goal to hopefully get him that confidence that he probably needs a little bit, especially goal scorers, they need to score,” Yallop said “He was the one that got the goal and I think that is great for him and I hope that it is the start of a good run by Chris.”
  • During the break, the Quakes terminated the loan deal of Ecuadorian international Edmundo Zura, as a result of findings in his full medical examination. Zura played 19 minutes vs. LA on Aug. 20 in his only appearance with the Earthquakes.

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire won for a second time on the trot, again by a 2-0 scoreline in a defeat of the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 27 at Toyota Park. The Fire have 27 points from 26 matches on the year, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Fire took the lead on 17 minutes. Midfielder Pável Pardo played a long ball over the top on the right wing and Dominic Oduro raced past the Rapids defense to collect it, slotting a low shot inside the far post from the right side of the area.
  • The home side then doubled their lead in the 36th minute. Pardo played a great ball to Sebastian Grazzini on the left side, and the Argentinean playmaker lofted a cross that Cory Gibbs powerfully headed home from six yards out at the back post.
  • Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas made no changes to the team that defeated Toronto FC 2-0 at Toyota Park.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan, Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares – Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo (Daniel Paladini 46), Marco Pappa - Sebastian Grazzini - Patrick Nyarko (Orr Barouch 76), Dominic Oduro (Baggio Husidic 91+).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire have now won back-to-back league games for the first time this season.
  • “We have two wins in a row. I’m not saying that we’re happy right now, we only have four wins on the whole season, but right now we just take the positives from the game, take those into the next game and hopefully get a few wins at home and on the road, and then we’ll see where we stand on the table,” said Dominic Oduro.
  • The Fire have also kept clean sheets in back-to-back games, now 197 minutes without allowing a goal. It’s the first consecutive shutouts this season since they recorded three in a row June 4-12 – two of which were scoreless draws.
  • “The first half we gave away a lot of set pieces. Going into the game I wanted to commit numbers forward in a big game, and limit the opportunities for them,” said Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas. “ … Overall I thought the marking was very good in the box. The defending starts in the top with the forwards. Patrick and Dominic worked very hard off the ball. We worked tactically very hard to pressure these guys over the past couple days. It was a whole team effort.”
  • The Fire managed to hold on to the victory despite seeing Pavel Pardo go off at halftime with a calf strain.
  • “He’s good at connecting the back line and the midfield. He’s a very experienced guy, organizes the team very well,” Klopas said. “ … He’s an important part of our team. He’s very experienced and brings different qualities to our team: he’s very good with the ball and is able to connect the back line with the midfield. He’s a great leader. The guys look at his work ethic and how he goes about training. He’s definitely helped us a lot.”
  • Then on the Tuesday following, the Fire advanced to the U.S. Open Cup final for a sixth time, in a 2 victory against USL PRO (third tier) side Richmond Kickers. Sebastian Grazzini put the Fire ahead in the 32nd minute from the penalty spot, then Oduro doubled the advantage in the 61st minute.
  • “Obviously it puts us in a situation in the final with an opportunity to win something,” Klopas said. “We knew what was at stake. Moments like this, you can’t let them slip away because that’s how you build a team, with tradition. These guys know the history of the club, but the good thing about it is that they want to write their own history.”
  • Here’s the Fire team: Sean Johnson; Dan Gargan, Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares; Marco Pappa, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause; Sebastian Grazzini (Baggio Husidic 46); Dominic Oduro (Diego Chaves 87), Patrick Nyarko
  • The Fire will now meet two-time defending Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC on Oct. 4 at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC are aiming to become just the fourth winner of the Open Cup in three consecutive seasons; the Fire are looking to match the record of five titles held by matching the record held by Bethlehem Steel (1915-16, 1918-19, 1926) and Los Angeles Maccabee (1973, 1975, 1977-78, 1981).
  • Grazzini was forced off at halftime with a hamstring strain, but says he expects to be available for the weekend. “I had a little bit of a knock on my ankle from the last match so tonight I overcompensated with my other leg and the last play of the first half I felt it tighten up a little,” Grazzini said. “But I have 10 days to recuperate so I think I will be OK.”
  • Dominic Oduro has a goal in each of the Fire’s last three games, and now has five goals in his last six games in all competitions, all since being paired in attack with Patrick Nyarko. “He’s been really super for us and I know that he’s going to continue to develop and get better and score more goals. He’s been fantastic,” Klopas said.
  • Marco Pappa played the full 90 minutes and scored Guatemala’s opening goal in their 4-0 win against St. Vincent & the Grenadines in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier Friday, then played the full match in the 2-1 win at Belize.
  • Orr Barouch played for Israel’s under-20 national team in their match against England.