Fire v Earthquakes Match Preview

The San Jose Earthquakes are struggling.  No wins, six losses, and seven ties in their last 13 matches has put Frank Yallop's side in a dire situation just one point behind the Fire but headed in the wrong direction.  To make matters worse the club signed Ecuadorian forward Edmund Zura on loan from El Nacional on August 15 only to terminate the loan 16 days later when Zura couldn't pass fitness tests.  Certainly an embarrassing development after Yallop declared weeks earlier that the club needed to add quality.

Defensively Jon Busch will continue to play despite a facial fracture and the team is fairly capable in the back.  There aren't many household names but they've been serviceable even through the current 13 game funk.  Bobby Burling and Jason Hernandez are the centerbacks that Yallop will entrust to defend the Fire's pace up front.  This appears to be a good match up possibility for the Fire.  Chris Leitch and Justin Morrow are the outside backs although Steven Beitashour and Ramiro Corrales have been given shots in the first eleven.

Offensively is where the Earthquakes have really struggled.  A lack of midfield engine and no creative playmaker makes them predictable and relatively easy to defend.  Making matters worse for them they will also be without Bobby Convey tonight due to yellow card accumulation.  That leaves Yallop with a likely mixture of Joey Gjersten and Ramiro Corrales on the flanks with some combination of Rafael Baca, Khari Stephenson, Sam Cronin, or Brad Ring to fill out central midfield.  Not exactly boot shaking even with Convey in the mix.

Forward Chris Wondolowski continues to be productive with 9 goals on the season but has been neutralized of late as teams have clamped down on their only scoring threat.  Simon Dawkins, who is more of a midfielder has also seen minutes as a second forward.  San Jose will also be without the services of the irritant Steven Lenhart who is their second leading scorer.  During their current 13 game winless stretch the Quakes have scored only 7 goals and have been blanked 8 times.

On the Fire's side expect Frank Klopas to keep things as close to constant as possible from here on out.  The loss of Gonzalo Segares due to yellow cards will necessitate some shuffling in the back line in front of Sean Johnson.  Klopas has indicated that Cory Gibbs could move to left back since he has some experience there.  Dan Gargan flipping sides with Jalil Anibaba moving back to the right side is also another possibility.  Mike Banner was given starts at left back during the last two reserve matches and might have gotten the call if not for an ankle injury suffered in Tuesday's reserve match against Real Salt Lake.  I'd like to see a back line consisting of Gargan on the right, Gibbs on the left, with Anibaba and Josip Mikulic in the middle.

The midfield may also see a slight change since Marco Pappa did not re-join the team until Friday due to international duty.  Pappa played the full 90 minutes in both of Guatemala's matches last week and picked up a thigh knock which could keep him out of the starting eleven.  Fortunately for Klopas and the Fire, both Sebastian Grazzini and Pavel Pardo appear fully fit after picking up hamstring and calf injuries.  Both players resumed full training this past week at Toyota Park.  If Pappa doesn't start we could see Orr Barouch given a chance to play more minutes opposite of Logan Pause on the outside.

Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko will continue to give opposing defenses fits with their pace up top and this game should be no exception.

Injury Report

CHICAGO FIRE -- OUT: DF Steven Kinney (lower abdominal strain); MF Marko Maric (L ankle posterior capsulitis); DF Mike Banner (R ankle sprain); MF Gabriel Ferrari (L knee ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: MF Corben Bone (R knee contusion)

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES -- OUT: MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DF Ike Opara (L foot injury); FW Alan Gordon (surgery); FW Steven Lenhart (family leave); DOUBTFUL: DF Justin Morrow (R hamstring strain); FW Scott Sealy (L groin strain); PROBABLE: MF Brad Ring (R shoulder sprain); MF Anthony Ampaipitakwong (L groin strain)

Referee

Geoff Gamble

Predicition

These are two teams going in opposite directions at the moment.  If the Fire are to make a last ditch effort for the tenth and final playoff spot the move has to start here.

Fire 1 Earthquakes 0

Chicago Fire Fanzine

Jeff Harbert over at ChicagoFireBlog.com has put together an excellent online magazine focusing on the Fire.  Stop by and check it out here.  It's very well done!  I was also happy to contribute a "small grain of sand" to the project.

 

Comments

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  • Starting Line Up

    GK Johnson
    D Pause, Anibaba, Gibbs, Gargan
    M Husidic, Pardo, Grazzini, Pappa
    F Nyarko, Oduro

    Bench: Conway, Cuesta, Mikulic, Paladini, Nazarit, Chaves, Barouch

  • Earthquakes line up

    GK Busch
    D Beitashour, Burling, Hernandez, Corrales
    M Gjersten, Cronin, Dawkins, Baca
    F Stephenson, Wondolowski

    Bench: Bingham, Attakora, Leitch, Luzaunaris, McLoughlin, Peterson, RIng

  • Horrible field surface tonight. Worst I can recall seeing in quite some time.

  • Field is awful.....Geoff Gamble just as bad.

    Fire trail 1-0 at the half but took control of the last 20 minutes of the first half. Two big saves from Jon Busch keeps the score level.

  • It doesn't help when the ref is a ball less dumb bastard, where to they
    find this garbage, San Jose got away with some rough play

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    That(!) was a referee?!? I just thought they must have had to press some body into service. Huh.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Some strange choices of occassions for the yellow card tonight considering the rough play. When you look back over the match and think about the fouls we saw and then look at the yellows that were called, it makes little sense. These 2 late yellows look like someone in authority told the ref he was missing too many calls.

  • Pathetic defense by the FIre here in the second half. Sean Johnson has been incredible but finally even his miraculous performance can't save them. Worst performance by our side in weeks.

  • Also doesn't help when the defense falls asleep.

  • Now that the game is in the bag, the referee comes down with yellow fever.

  • Earthquakes win 2-0, referee gets a save.

  • Fire earned their result tonight, regardless of the poor performance from the ref. Although they've turned things around they still seem obligated to play horribly whenever they play a team they should beat easily. Don't know what that's about but if I was the coach it would lead to some obligatory demeaning workouts every time until they got their heads out of their arses.

  • Rotten field + rotten ref + rotten play = rotten result.
    Grazzini looked lost, Pappa at times appeared to be a spectator,
    Johnson's great effort wasted. Fire has to win the rest of the games to have a chance, thought the Fire would have a sure win tonight.
    While the ref (the dumb ball less bastard) maybe might have prevented the Fire from winning, the Fire lost the game on their own
    mediocre effort.

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