The San Jose Earthquakes routed the Chicago Fire 5-1 on Wednesday night to claim the squad’s first win in nearly two months. The Quakes now improve to 5-5-8, but remain in last place in the Western Conference standings with 20 points.
Shea Salinas started the scoring in the 44th minute when he latched on to the end of a lofted pass from Yannick Djalo. The midfielder then slalomed down the sideline before cutting into the box and curling his shot into the upper right hand corner of the net. For Salinas, the goal was his first of the season.
“What a finish,” said striker Chris Wondolowski. “That really gave us that galvanizing spirit that we needed coming in to half time, and really kind of set us up on the right foot.”
San Jose doubled its advantage in the 51st minute courtesy of Attiba Harris. The winger found the back of the net on a rebound after Chicago goal keeper Sean Johnson spilled a clearance following a close-range shot from Wondolowski.
Wondolowski then got in on the scoring in the 62nd minute as he grabbed his seven strike of the season. The Fire pulled back a goal in the 75th minute, as Grant Ward fired a shot across the face of the goal to beat Jon Busch at the far post.
The Quakes then completed the mauling as Djalo and Cordell Cato poured in goals in the 79th and 84th minutes, respectively. Djalo’s strike was particularly impressive as he chipped the keeper from outside the box. The 28-year-old, who added three assist to go with his goal, was playing as a second striker.
“We’ve played him there before,” said head coach Mark Watson. “And when you’re searching for performances, results, points—you try different things.”
Will he play there again?
“I think there’s a chance,” joked Watson.
Before the 5-1 beat down of the Fire, San Jose last earned three points on May 25 against the Houston Dynamo at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara. Now, the Quakes have strung together two positive results, but Busch doesn’t want to make comparisons to last year’s late-season run just yet.
“Let’s slow down, slow down. It’s two games. We’ve got a lot more. You know, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’ll take the result tonight, we’ll take the three points. We’ll enjoy it tonight, but then we’ll start preparing for the next game because, like I said, we’re not out of the doghouse, we’ve got a long way to go.”
Up next, the Quakes host Atletico Madrid on July 27 at Candlestick Park. The exhibition against the reigning La Liga Champions marks the last ever game at the old home of the San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm. San Jose returns to MLS action on August 2 to play the Seattle Sounders at Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the 49ers.
Note: Forward Lenahrt was scratched before the game with a minor knee injury. Alan Gordon was also left off the bench. Watson didn’t offer much when asked about the status of the veteran.
“Uh, not available tonight.”