A shred of hope has emerged from the Chicago Fire in the midst of a downtrodden season and they will look to gain some momentum when they hit the road to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.
Since the end of the international break in early June, the Fire (4-8-5, 17 points) have returned with a pair of 1-0 victories in three games, the most recent coming at home Wednesday against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union.
Federico Navarro scored the game’s only goal in the 68th minute, just the 15th goal all season for Chicago, which remains the lowest scoring team in MLS. Kacper Przybylko and Xherdan Shaqiri lead the team with three goals each.
The shutout against one of MLS’s top teams came without top defender Wyatt Omsberg (foot), who was injured in the other 1-0 victory on June 18 against D.C. United.
“No matter what it looks like now, if we continue to play and continue to grow and continue to show the progress that we’ve been showing, we’re going to be fine,” Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson said.
The victory moved the Fire out of last place in the East and made them 2-1-0 since they entered the break on a 10-game winless streak (0-7-3).
The Earthquakes (3-7-6, 15 points) will try to follow the Fire’s example in order to emerge from the depths of the standings. San Jose is last in the Western Conference as one of three MLS clubs earning less than a point from each game (0.94).
The Earthquakes haven’t won since a 3-2 victory over the Portland Timbers on May 18 and have not scored a goal since May 28 against Los Angeles FC. Since the break, they tied Nashville SC 0-0 on June 11 and fell 2-0 to Real Salt Lake on June 18.
The Earthquakes were supposed to face the Los Angeles Galaxy last weekend at Stanford Stadium, but that game was postponed because of brush fires in the Bay Area that were causing intermittent power-grid issues.
San Jose will try to use fresh legs to their advantage against a team that played mid-week. Jeremy Ebobisse leads the club with nine goals, but San Jose just lost the services of Javier “Chofis” Lopez, whose loan from Chivas in Mexico expired.
“The guys wanted to play on any field (last) weekend, but it couldn’t happen,” Earthquakes interim head coach Alex Covelo said. “I can tell you that they have a lot of energy and a lot of willingness to play Chicago.”
–Field Level Media