You are no longer welcome in San Jose, Frank Yallop.
The man who brought the Earthquakes two MLS Cups, a Supporters Shield and introduced Goonie ball received a rude reality check that San Jose was indeed no longer his home or his battle field. The new general in charge, Mark Watson, once Yallop's top lieutenant, showed his former teacher he could rally the troops, inspire the hunger to turn a season around and take three points.
For the first 45 minutes it seemed the Fire, if they were to fall, would do so in the familiar fashion of one second too short. It was Shea Salinas who put San Jose up 1-0 with time expiring in the first half. The goal came after a stretch of uninspiring but focused play from the Fire. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado stepped up to prevent a break and did so, but the ball fell right back to San Jose. The ball was played up immediately to Salinas on the left side who had acres of space and made a great individual effort to fire a shot to the upper far post as Bakary Soumare and Hurtado closed in.
Any glimmer of hope the Fire had coming out of the locker room for the second half was quickly extinguished. Quincy Amarikwa had two great chances in the first three minutes of the second stanza, well-deserved gifts after working hard in the first half against the physical Earthquakes without much support from his teammates. Amarikwa failed to put Lovel Palmer's cross on frame with a diving header and moments later failed to hit the frame when he shot low to the far post.
San Jose was done playing around. Gonzalo Segares attempted to jump in to break up a play near the center line, but failed, leaving huge amounts of space behind him. The ball was played up to Chris Wondowloski who was denied by Sean Johnson, but the rebound went to the right where Atiba Harris followed up and scored on an empty net.
Not long after Wondolowski was sprung up the middle again and this time he beat Johnson to give San Jose a 3-0 lead. Grant Ward, who came on for Harry Shipp, would make the game 3-1 with a nice finish to the far post, beating Jon Busch who was diving to his right to try and stop the low shot.
The score, which came in the 74th minute, was insignificant. A demoralized Chicago team seemed to collectively be standing flat footed as Harris chipped a ball to a wide open Yannick Djalo who chipped the ball over Johnson and into the net for a 4-1 lead.
Cordell Cato would add another acrobatic goal in the 84th minute to make 5-1 because, why not?
It was the worst game of the year for the Fire and a performance that demands consequences. It is bad enough to lose 5-1. It is even worse to lose 5-1 to the worst team in the Western Conference. It is even worse to lose 5-1 to the worst team in the Western Conference when that team once employed the coach now on the opposite bench.
Jeff Larentowicz, the captain of the team, has said the right things. Mike Magee said before the game there was added motivation because of Yallop's ties to San Jose and a flat performance would mean something must be wrong. Well something must be wrong. And saying the right things does not matter anymore. It is easy to point the finger at the back four, but it is far more than that.
I had some game recap from the first half typed up. A little about the promising combination plays between Shipp and Amarikwa and some nice words about how all of the back four got the ball out of the box quickly and efficiently for most of the half. But I deleted it. It does not matter. If you did not see it, you really do not need to worry about it.
What Djalo and Wondolowski did to create offense for their team is what players in a desperate situation should do and what fans want to see. What Jason Hernandez did on the pitch Wednesday night to shut down Amarikwa and others is what a player in a desperate situation should do and what fans want to see. The Earthquakes knew they needed a win and acted like it. The Chicago Fire knew they needed a win and decided to fold after they fell down 2-0.
This is not a very graceful or detailed recap, but grace and details were nowhere to be found on the field from the Fire either. The transfer window closes Aug. 6. The least the team can do now is show the fans they have not completely forgotten about them, that they realize the season has been unacceptable and make an investment for the on-field product.
Sorry in advance Tottenham. I doubt you'll find much of a warmup in Chicago.
The Fire (3-11-5) play the aforementioned friendly against Tottenham on Saturday, and return to MLS play in a week, when they host Vancouver. San Jose have won some games and lost more than that, but who honestly cares? They're in the other conference, and they're cellar-dwellars. And we just lost to them by a 5-1 scoreline that felt charitable by the final whistle.