BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – It took the better part of the first half, but something seemed to click for the Chicago Fire’s offense on Friday night against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The visiting Earthquakes controlled possession for the opening 20-plus minutes, but when they didn’t make much of that possession, the Fire began to grow into the game.
The Fire finished the first half with an advantage in shots and early in the second half they broke through for the game-winning goal. John Goossens’ 58th-minute goal was the difference as the Fire beat the Earthquakes, 1-0, Friday night in front of 16,487 at Toyota Park.
Even with the three points, the Fire (3-7-5) remain last in the Eastern Conference on 14 points. The Earthquakes (5-5-7) are tied for seventh place in the West and are now winless in its last six games.
After a slow start, the Fire had the best two chances of the opening 45 minutes late in the half. Joao Meira and Kennedy Igboananike each forced a save from San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham in the final 10 minutes of a scoreless first half.
The Fire took the lead in the 58th minute on Goossens’ first MLS goal. Rodrigo Ramos, who was consistently dangerous getting forward from his right back position, played a cross into the box. No one was there, but when Igboananike challenged the clearance, the Earthquakes defense could only get it as far as the top of the 18. Goossens was able to run onto the ball and hit a low shot that beat Bingham to the right post.
The Fire nearly gave the goal back immediately, but regained their footing and kept control for the rest of the match, sealing its third league win of the season.
“We’re getting there. We’re getting there. I still believe there’s a long way to go, but at least finally we passed that maturity test today,” Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We created a couple times this season the momentum where we could step to the next and we couldn’t for different reasons. But I think today that was perfect. The perfect day. Even that the victory – so tight victory makes it even better, even greater. I just think we have to continue doing what we were doing so far, believing in our process. When we lose, when we tie we say ‘Process, process, process. Faith, faith, faith.’ Same thing now.”
The Earthquakes went down a man in the final minutes when Fatai Alashe was injured in a collision with David Accam. Having already used all three subs, the Earthquakes were forced to play the seven minutes of stoppage time with 10 men.
Despite getting Chris Wondolowski back from a four-game absence with the U.S. Men’s National Team, the Earthquakes were only able to manage six shots, and just two on target. Wondolowski didn’t get a shot off in the loss.
“We didn’t play good,” Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear said. “Simple as that. … We just kept on giving the ball away. It wasn’t like we were under a tremendous amount of pressure, we just didn’t play good.”
MAN OF THE MATCH
Fire defender Rodrigo Ramos was solid on defense and key in starting attacks. He left the match in the 79th minute, having contributed four key passes and blocking a shot.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Fire forward John Goossens scored the game’s only goal in the 58th minute with a one-time effort from the top of the box. It was his first MLS goal.
MATCH TO FORGET
Earthquakes goalkeeper David Bingham made six saves but most were right at him and the Chicago goal went in despite him getting an outstretched arm to it.