BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - It appears the Chicago Fire may be starting to turn a corner on the misfortunes they have experienced in the first half of the season.
John Goossens' first MLS goal in the 58th minute sealed Chicago's third win of the year, and the back line secured their fifth clean sheet in a 1-0 home victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday night.
Goossens has been pivotal for Chicago since coming back from a two-month layoff due to a knee injury. In that time he has helped Chicago to a U.S. Open Cup win, and has partnered well with his teammates in the attack. Since his return to the lineup, the Fire have averaged 14 shots per game, a total that is up significantly from a previous run of games where shots consistently were in the single digits.
"He's not only the one who scored the goal, but he played a great game, together with the rest of the guys," head coach Veljko Paunovic said.
The 27-year-old Goossens, who was a product of the Ajax youth system in the Netherlands, is beginning to fall into the role Paunovic envisioned for him, even if it took time for that vision to become reality after an extended period on the injured list.
"We believe that John was always a talented player, and he needed an opportunity like this one," said Paunovic. "I think in a league like MLS, his qualities first as a person, then as a player can really fit very well."
Goossens' dynamic play was evident in the attack on Friday, and his second-half goal gave Chicago the lead and proved to be the game winner. Still, Chicago could have put more goals away against a San Jose backline that was ravaged by injury.
"It was the perfect time to score," Goossens said. "We had a good game, we had a lot of pressure on [San Jose's] back, and in the end it was a good evening."