The Chicago Fire claimed their first victory of the 2005 season, a stoppage-time goal from Thiago giving them a 2-1 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes in their home opener at Soldier Field on Saturday night.
An own goal by San Jose defender Craig Waibel had given the Fire a lead earlier in the second half, but a goal from Alejandro Moreno leveled the match with seven minutes to play. But after the full 90 minutes were complete, Thiago turned home a cross to give the Fire the victory.
After an uneventful opening 15 minutes, the Fire took hold of the first half. Justin Mapp, Thiago, and Nate Jaqua led an attack that forced seven corner kicks resulting in six shots -- though only one was on goal.
The Fire narrowly missed taking the lead during that spell. A header by midfielder Jesse Marsch in the 12th minute off a corner kick scramble caught the left post, and another header from Jaqua was stopped on a strong diving save by Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad in the 25th minute.
The second half was much more eventful. In the 58th minute, the Fire's Ivan Guerrero raced down the left flank beating his marker -- who barely forced the ball out of bounds. On the quick throw-in that resulted, Guerrero got the ball to Justin Mapp who lofted it toward Jaqua in the area. The Fire striker couldn't make contact but it went off the head of Quakes defender Craig Waibel just behind Jaqua, and the deflection sailed over Onstad to open the Chicago account.
After the goal, the Earthquakes began to assert themselves, pinning Chicago in its own half of the field. In the 83rd minute, Ronald Cerritos crossed the ball from the left side to Quakes striker Brian Ching, who was knocked to the turf while fighting for the ball, but still managed to hold off defender Jim Curtin. As he rose, he nudged it to second half substitute Alejandro Moreno who knocked into the back of the net.
But just as the match seem destined for another draw, Chad Barrett -- who had just come on for a tiring Mapp -- beat his marker to the end line. His low cross in front of San Jose's goal was met by a streaking Thiago who touched the ball past Onstad for the match-winner and the full three points.
The Fire hit the road next week when they take on the MetroStars on Friday night at Giants Stadium on ESPN2 in MLS Primetime (8 p.m. ET), while the Earthquakes return to Spartan Stadium where they will take on the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday (10 p.m. ET).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Thiago (Chicago Fire)
Nathan Nebbe is a contributor to MSLnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its lcubs.
San Jose Earthquakes (0-1-2) vs. Chicago Fire (1-1-1)
April 16, 2005 -- Soldier Field
CHI -- own goal (Craig Waibel) 58
SJ -- Alejandro Moreno 1 (Brian Ching 1, Ronald Cerritos 1) 82
CHI -- Thiago 1 (Chad Barrett 1) 91+
San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Craig Waibel (Alejandro Moreno 77), Troy Dayak, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett, Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark (Dwayne De Rosario 70), Danny O'Rourke, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Ronald Cerritos.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Aloisi, Jon Conway, Ian Russell.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Ronald Cerritos 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Alejandro Moreno 1, Brian Mullan 1); FOULS: 20 (Brian Ching 5); OFFSIDES: 5 (Ronald Cerritos 2, Brian Ching 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Ronald Cerritos 1, Brad Davis 1); SAVES: 1 (Pat Onstad 1)
Chicago Fire -- Matt Pickens, Kelly Gray, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Samuel Caballero, Thiago (Logan Pause 89), Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch, Ivan Guerrero, Nate Jaqua, Justin Mapp (Chad Barrett 86).
Substitutes Not Used: Scott Buete, Leonard Griffin, Will John, Will Johnson, David Mahoney, Gonzalo Segares, Jack Stewart.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Thiago 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Nate Jaqua 2); FOULS: 25 (Jim Curtin 6); OFFSIDES: 3 (Justin Mapp 2); CORNER KICKS: 9 (Justin Mapp 8); SAVES: 1 (Matt Pickens 1)
SJ -- Brian Ching (caution; Tackle from Behind) 63
CHI -- Thiago (caution; Reckless Foul) 67
CHI -- Kelly Gray (caution; Pushing, Holding) 81
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: -Robert Fereday; Richard Eddy
4th Official: Hilario Grajeda
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-63-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.