On the back of a 1-0 win mid-week over the first-placed Philadelphia Union, the Chicago Fire will travel out west to face the San Jose Earthquakes. Ezra Hendrickson’s team will be looking to string two wins together for the first time since mid-March, and in taking on a Quakes team who currently sits in last place in the Western Conference, they certainly have an opportunity to do just that.
This matchup will also see the Fire reunited with an old friend. This offseason, the Quakes added Costa Rican international and former Fire captain Francisco Calvo. Calvo has 13 starts in MLS this season, scoring two goals. It will certainly be interesting to see how that added variable plays into the game.
Sunday will also see the return of Arlo White to the broadcast booth for the Chicago Fire. Despite recent controversies surrounding his involvement in the commentary team for the LIV golf series, White is still set to share the mic with Tyler Terens on the WGN broadcast.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs San Jose Earthquakes: 16W-11D-12L, 32 GF / 18 GA, 60 pts out of 117
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs San Jose Earthquakes: 6W-5D-9L, 24 GF / 30 GA, 23 pts out of 60
The Quakes have been in poor form as of late, and have struggled to find any rhythm following the departure of Matias Almeyda. They have also not played in two weeks, as their Cali Clásico against the LA Galaxy last week was postponed to September due to a power outage.
After such a strong performance against the Union mid-week, there isn’t much that Ezra Hendrickson needs to change going into Sunday. Jairo Torres could be available, as he was listed as “questionable,” but it would be a surprise if he came right back into the eleven. In his place, Brian Gutiérrez should get the nod over Fabian Herbers, who couldn’t get the job done in the two previous matches. Kacper Przybyłko has also been stuggling up top, so it may be time to look at other options for the number nine position. While the other strikers on the roster are not easy solutions, the pace and energy of Jhon Durán may be helpful up against the San Jose back line.
The only other change could be at left back; Andre Reynolds II was solid in his debut, but it wasn’t enough to displace Jonathan Bornstein in the pecking order. With Miguel Navarro still unavailable due to health and safety protocols, Bornstein should still get the start here. As the 37-year-old cannot reliably go 90 minutes every game anymore, Reynolds may certainly be called upon off the bench.
Keys To The Match
Set the tempo early and take chances: In the Fire’s last road game, last weekend in Houston, a bright start could not be capitalized on as the Dynamo scored two goals late in the half. The Fire need to open the game on the front foot and create in the opening phase of the game, but also finish those chances to force the Quakes to play from behind. The Fire have been at their best when they can have plenty of the ball, and set the tempo of the game, because when they lose that control, they have struggled to cope.
Decisionmaking in the final third: At many moments this season, Fire attacks have been killed off by the final pass. Xherdan Shaqiri has been the only player who has consistenly opened up the opposition in front of goal, and this has resulted in numerous assists. Others, like Kacper Przybylko, Brian Gutiérrez, and Fabian Herbers, have lacked the necessary incivieness, whether that be pulling the trigger when they should, or finding a through pass. The attackers should also maintain a relatively high press if they can; Francisco Calvo and the San Jose Earthquakes are not exactly known for their ability playing out of the back, and the Fire can exploit that through the likes of Mueller, Gutiérrez, and Durán.
How To Watch
Time: 8:00 pm
Streaming: CF97 Live/CF97 app, ESPN+ (out of market)
Over the past few years, it feels like the Fire have won games against some really great teams in MLS but have then failed to win the games which they should be winning. The Fire have a great opportunity here against the last-placed Quakes, and I am feeling (perhaps blindly) optimistc.
With a big impact off the bench from Jairo Torres, I think the Fire will get the job done, 1-0.