The San Jose Earthquakes could have been excused for starting the season with two losses and coming home for the grand opening of Avaya Stadium without a point in the standings. After all, the Quakes opened their 2015 MLS campaign with road games at FC Dallas -- already a perfect three for three to start the season -- and the Seattle Sounders -- last season's Supporters' Shield winners.
But San Jose performed well on the two-game away trip, narrowly missing out on a point at Dallas when Blas Perez scored the game's only goal in stoppage time and shocking Seattle 3-2 at CenturyLink Field despite playing a man down for most of the second half. These Quakes, under the leadership of new head coach Dominic Kinnear, are brimming with confidence and look nothing like the last place version that limped through 2014.
Against Seattle, Kinnear was able to start all three of his designated players -- Chris Wondolowski, Matias Perez Garcia, and Innocent Emeghara -- and the trio responded with a great display of attacking soccer. Calm in possession was MPG, scoring a brace was Wondo, and netting the game-winning-goal was Innocent -- a perfect script for the unexpected upset of the Sounders.
The three attacking forces will be on the field again for Kinnear as the Earthquakes battle the Chicago Fire in the first regular season MLS game at brand-new Avaya Stadium. Kick off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Pacific time, and the game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1. To watch the game online, the best resource will be the Fox Sports to go application. The match will be available on MLS Live in two days, after a 48-hour blackout period has expired.
Chicago comes to San Jose having suffered through a pair of losses, but head coach Frank Yallop will have his charges ready for the occasion. Former Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch will be there with the Fire, as the veteran signed with his Chicago in the offseason as a back-up for Sean Johnson. Forward Quincy Amarikwa, another former Earthquake, will also represent the Fire.
The Earthquakes will be without a pair of key players at center back, as Paulo Renato is out due to injury and Victor Bernardez is serving a one game suspension, but Kinnear will still have options to shore up the core of his defensive line. The most important task at hand for the Quakes against the Fire will be to continue to feed Wondolowski the ball and create scoring opportunities that keep the Chicago defense on its heels. Do that, and the Quakes should easily collect three points against the struggling Fire.