Fire grab early lead and hold on to top Quakes 2-1

Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes

By Marko Ukalovic

The Chicago Fire (5-7-2, 16 points) took advantage of some sloppy defensive play by the San Jose Earthquakes (2-8-3, 9 points) to jump out to a two-goal lead and then held on for dear life at the end to win 2-1 on Saturday evening at Toyota Park.

The Quakes had a good scoring chance in the 24th minute when Magnus Eriksson started a rush at midfield. He found forward Danny Hoesen, along the left side of the box, but his shot attempt was deflected out of bounds. The ensuing corner kick from Chris Wehan deflected off a Chicago defender and bounced around in the middle of the box before it was cleared away by the Fire.

Ex-Quake forward Alan Gordon continued to haunt his own team in the 29th minute when he was able to head in a ball that Luis Solignac crossed into the center of the box from the right corner. Johan Kappelhof initiated the play and fed the ball over to the Argentinian forward who sailed the ball right on to the head of Gordon who was able to knock it into the goal past Quakes goalie Andrew Tarbell for his fourth goal of the season. It also marked Gordon’s third straight game with a goal.

In the second half, Chicago would get an early goal in the 49th minute. Brandt Bronico would dribble the down the right corner and fed a pretty pass that split past two Quakes defenders to a wide open Aleksander Katai who buried the ball in the upper left corner of the goal to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. It was the fourth goal of the season for the Serbian midfielder.

The Quakes cut the lead in half in the 75th minute when Vako started a rush at midfield, sent a long ball down to the right corner where captain Chris Wondolowski was able chase down. He quickly centered the ball into the box where Hoesen who was covered by a Fire defender one timed the ball with his left leg past Fire back up goalie Richard Sanchez. It was Hoesen’s team-leading seventh goal of the season.

San Jose put on a late push at the end of the game to try to get the equalizer. They had three corner kick opportunities in the last four minutes of the game, including a headed attempt by defenseman Jimmy Ockford that just sailed over the net in the final seconds of stoppage time, but weren’t able to cash in to salvage a point on the night.

GAME NOTES: Quakes defender Shea Salinas was injured in the 12th minute with a leg injury. Fatai Alashe substituted in for him. Fire goalie Patrick Mclain suffered a leg injury in the 44th minute and was replaced by Sanchez.

The Earthquakes have conceded in 18 straight regular season MLS matches. They have not conceded in 18 straight since the 2009 season.

The Earthquakes are 4-16-4 on the road since the start of last season with a -30 goal differential. Only three teams have lost more league road games, and only two teams have a worse road goal differential.

Seven of the Fire’s 18 goals this season have come from set pieces. Only Atlanta United (11) and the New York Red Bulls (eight) have more.

The Fire have lost three of their last four home games. They lost just two home games all of last season.

Chicago Fire leads the all time series 15-10-11. They are 9-2-6 against San Jose at home.

UP NEXT: The Quakes finish off their three game road trip in Portland when they take on the Timbers on Wednesday, June 6th at 7:30 pm PST at Providence Park.

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