The Chicago Fire are undefeated in their last three matches and have only lost twice in the previous nine matches, but none of those wins have been on the road this season. Can the San Jose Earthquakes keep them winless on the road or will Chigaco keep steamrolling along? Let’s see what the Quakes may be up against.
Manager: Veljko Paunovic
Formation: Depends on which way the wind is blowing it could be a 4-3-3, 3-5-2, or 4-2-3-1. I will be breaking down their 4-3-3 formation; they have used the last several weeks.
Stadium: Avaya Stadium
Time: 12:30 PM
Weather: Rain (in May because why should anything make sense anymore)
After spending most of his career with the Vancouver Whitecaps, this is Ousted’s first season as the primary keeper for the Fire, and it looks like he is finally heating up. After giving up seven goals in their first three matches Ousted and the Fire have not given up a goal in their last three contests. Currently Ousted has a 1.08 Goals Against Average which is second best in his career after the 1.05 GAA he had in 2015 when the Whitecaps made it all the way to the Western Conference Semifinals before being knocked out by eventual MLS Champion Portland Timbers. Danny Hoesen, Shea Salinas, and Cristian Espinoza are going to have to be on their game if they want to get on the board against the keeper.
Jorge Corrales, Johan Kappelhof, Przemyslaw Frankowski, Diego Campos
A goalkeeper is only part of strong defense, and the four guys in front of Ousted have been the remaining pieces that have propelled the Fire to this run. The Quakes are lucky that German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger will miss the match after accumulating his fifth yellow card last week against Minnesota United. The ex-Manchester United defender was having his best season, statistically, of his three seasons in MLS and with the Quakes still trying to find ways to score consistently he would have been a formidable barrier for Matias Almeyda’s squad. This is a team sport though, and Schweinsteiger is only one of four players that make up that backline, and the other three are ready to show how they have only allowed 13 goals this season.
Djordje Mihailovic, Mo Adams, Dax McCarty
This is another group for the Fire that will be without a critical piece as Nicolas Gaitan is out for several weeks with a hamstring injury. Manager Veljko Paunovic has a decision to make whether to start the more experienced but defensive leaning Mo Adams over Brandt Bronico who has played less than 200 minutes this season but brings more offensive power to the mix.
McCarty reminds me a lot of a 1994 Honda Civic. He has been around longer than most people can remember, several people had the pleasure of having him around for a couple of seasons before letting him go to another person in need, and he is as reliable as the first day he was signed. The last time he played less than 1,000 minutes in a season was during President Barack Obama’s first year in office that was like eight expansion teams ago!
Aleksandar Katai, Nemanja Nikolics, C.J. Sapong
As good as this offensive group has been scoring goals at home this season they have had a terrible time getting the ball in the net on the road. Of the Fire’s 19 goals this season only three have come on the road, and in those road games, they have been shut out three times. The weather may also play a factor in slowing these guys down as a late-season rainstorm is expected to soak the Bay Area on Saturday afternoon. Guram Kashia is not listed on the injury report for the Quakes, so Almeyda should have a full roster to choose from to try to slow down this powerful attack and come away with some more points at home. A win on Saturday would match the Quakes win total for all of last season, last season the Quakes did not win their fourth match until the late summer.