San Jose Earthquakes 1-4 Chicago Fire
SAN JOSE, CA—It’s been a long time for a lot of things. The last time the Fire played a playoff game was on Halloween Night 2012. The last time the Fire won a match in the Pacific Time Zone was back on May 4th, 2012, over Chivas USA (0-12-4 coming into tonight). The last time a Chicago soccer player scored 20 goals in a single season (outdoors) was Karl-Heinz Granitza in 1982 for the Sting.
All three came to past as the Fire thrashed San Jose, 4-1, at the Avaya Stadium to clinch their first playoff berth since 2012 after Montreal had lost to NYCFC earlier in the night.
After a cross-country trip and an upcoming game on Saturday, Veljko Paunovic made four changes to the lineup from last Saturday, including Richard Sanchez making his first start in goal. He would go on to make eight saves on the night.
Another change was Djordje Mihailovic who would be on the receiving end of combination play from Matt Polster and Michael de Leeuw to score his first career goal in the 14th minute. Yet another lineup change, Luis Solignac, scored the second five minutes from halftime after heading in a cross from de Leeuw.
Andrew Tarbell had been stellar in goal in the first half for the Quakes despite those two goals. But three minutes into the second half, it would be a distribution intercepted by Solignac that set up Nemanja Nikolic for his 19th goal of the season breaking the Fire’s single season record for goals set by Ante Razov in 2000.
In the 65th minute, Nikolic got his 20th in the season following up after de Leeuw’s initial effort went off the crossbar. Nikolic is the first player in Chicago Soccer history to score 20 goals in a single season since Granitza scored 20 for the Sting in 1982.
Chris Wondolowski got a consolation goal three minutes from time to tie Jaime Moreno for third all-time in goals in MLS with 133, but the Quakes slipped to 8th in the West after FC Dallas’s win and Houston’s draw.
It was simply a dominating performance from start to finish for the Fire and all of this without Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juninho, and David Accam who was being rested for Saturday. On Saturday, the Fire host NYCFC at 7:30pm on CSN.
CHI-Djordje Mihailovic (Polster, de Leeuw) 14
CHI-Luis Solignac (de Leeuw, Mihailovic) 40
CHI-Nemanja Nikolic (Solignac) 48
CHI-Nemanja Nikolic (unassisted) 65
SJ-Chris Wondolowski (Qazaishvili) 87
CHI-Arturo Alvarez (caution, reckless tackle) 26
SJ-Florian Jungwirth (caution, tactical foul) 35
SJ-Anibal Godoy (caution, reckless tackle) 39
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): #28-Andrew Tarbell; #24-Nick Lima (#11-Valeri Qazaishvili 63), #22-Tommy Thompson (#10-Jahmir Hyka 77), #3-Francois Affolter, #6-Shea Salinas; #9-Danny Hoesen, #14-Jackson Yueill, #23-Florian Jungwirth, #30-Anibal Godoy; #8-Chris Wondolowski, #21-Marco Ureña (#25-Quincy Amarikwa 72)
Subs not used: #1-David Bingham, #5-Victor Bernardez, #2-Kofi Sarkodie, #11-Valeri Qazaishvili, #17-Darwin Ceren
CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): #45-Richard Sanchez; #2-Matt Polster (#66-Joao Meira 65), #4-Johan Kappelhof, #16-Jonathan Campbell, #3-Brandon Vincent; #14-Djordje Mihailovic, #6-Dax McCarty (#13-Brandt Bronico 82); #12-Arturo Alvarez, #8-Michael de Leeuw, #9-Luis Solignac; #23-Nemanja Nikolic (#18-Drew Conner 76)
Subs not used: #28-Matt Lampson, #5-Michael Harrington, #25-Jorge Corrales, #10-David Arshakyan
TOTAL SHOTS: SJ 20-14 CHI
SHOTS ON GOAL: SJ 9-10 CHI
FOULS: SJ 10-16 CHI
OFFSIDES: SJ 1-2 CHI
CORNER KICKS: SJ 5-3 CHI
SAVES: SJ 6-8 CHI
Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referees: Peter Balciunas, Eduardo Mariscal
Fourth Official: Alex Chilowicz
Video Assistant Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Weather: Fair and 83º
Man of the Match: Nemanja Nikolic (CHI)
San Jose Earthquakes