It’s time for the 32nd Natural Disaster matchup to see if Earthquakes do more damage than Fire on the pitch. This Saturday, July 28th at 7:30 p.m. PDT the San Jose Earthquakes welcome the Chicago Fire back into their home at Buck Shaw. Unfortunately for the Fire, the last time San Jose lost a game at their home in Santa Clara was August 13, 2011; since that date they’ve gone 7-0-3.
Due to the new unbalanced schedule reintroduced this season by MLS, this will be the first and only time that the Quakes will face the Fire. Coming into the match the Earthquakes are a top of the league standings with 43 points; whereas, Chicago is 5th in the East with 31 points (9-7-4) but with a record of only 3-5-2 on the road.
Looking at the last two matchups between the teams last season the Quakes first tied Chicago in a crazy 2-2 game at Toyota Park on May 28th, The scoring started with Ramiro Corrales getting a ball from former Quake Anthony Ampaipitakwong in the 50th minute. Just six minutes later Dominic Odura put the equalizer in the back of the net. It took nearly another twenty minutes for Corrales to find Ampai who slotted the ball right to Chris Wondolowski for his 6th goal of the season. However, not to be outdone, Adis "Baggio" Hušidić found Cory Gibbs who got the ball past Jon Busch for his first goal of the season.
Later in the year, the Chicago Fire came to Buck Shaw on 9/10/11 to show their dominance; however, like so many other times the game wasn’t to go their way. Wondo was starting to get hot and slotted in his 10th goal of the season from a cross by Rafael Baca in the 10th minute. Later in the game, Khari Stephenson found Wondolowski who then gave the ball to Corrales who put the ball past Sean Johnson in the 69th minute. Jon Busch was able to record his 7th clean sheet of the season.
The Fire might want to exact some revenge on the Quakes; however, they will have to do it without their star Marco Pappa, who has 5 goals and 3 assists this year, will have to sit out due to having too many yellow cards and Sebastián Grazzini, who has 2 goals and 5 assists, asked for personal leave to deal with some matters at home. Chicago also announced last week that Frederico Puppo, 1 assist, was loaned out to Defensor Sporting in Uruguay, in order to open up an international slot and cap space for their first Designated Player this year, the Dutch forward Sherjill MacDonald.
The San Jose Earthquakes will also be dealing with some missing and tired players. First, MLS All-Star Steven Beitashour will have to miss his first match this year due to yellow card accumulation. MLS All-Star and Honduran speedster Marvin Chávez, whose 9 assists has him tied with David Beckham for 2nd in the league, will be out due to a tightness in his hamstring. And speaking of the MLS All-Star game, Justin Morrow, Chris Wondolowski, and Ramiro Corrales all had significant number of minutes during Wednesday’s 3 - 2 victory over the European Champions Chelsea FC, which included a Wondo goal in the 21st minute.
All in all, I think it will be an amazing game night that should see Steven Lenhart back on the pitch after suffering concussion-like symptoms that started in the US Open Cup Semi-Final against Seattle on June 26th, which is perfect way to celebrate Steven Lenhart Wig night, where the first 2,500 people through the gate will be given a very curly blonde afro. I think that the Quakes will pull out something special for the fans and give them a 8.0 win pin and hopefully a couple of Wondo-ful goals to keep him in pace to break Roy Lassiter’s record of 27 goals in one season.
(Photo: Joe Nuxoll, CenterlineSoccer.com)