Fire find the spark
After 401 scoreless minutes, the Chicago Fire unearthed their hidden offense as they tallied three goals and blanked the San Jose Earthquakes, 3-0, late Wednesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Freddie Ljungberg tallied a goal and two assists to lead the way as Chicago (7-10-8) erased a seven-match winless streak and mathematically kept itself in the playoff picture.
"I think we knew that the goals would come," Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. "Tonight was a complete game on both sides of the ball, defensively and offensively -- finished our chances and held it tight for 90 minutes."
Chicago defender Steven Kinney ended the Fire's all-time longest scoreless drought with a 39th-minute tally off of a Ljungberg corner kick to take a 1-0 lead. Ljungberg crossed the ball from the right side, hooking up with Kinney who made a strong run to lose the Quakes' Brandon McDonald. The cross went just over the head of San Jose's Chris Wondolowski, and Kinney's header went toward the upper left of the goal past former Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch.
Ljungberg notched his first goal in a Fire jersey in the 72nd minute. Patrick Nyarko sent the ball to Ljungberg who made a run up the middle to lose San Jose's Christopher Leitch. Ljungberg made one touch with the ball to lead himself forward and get past the Quakes' Jason Hernandez, then chipped the ball with his left foot over Busch and into the right side netting for a 2-0 advantage.
Nyarko tallied his first goal of the season in second-half stoppage time to take a 3-0 lead. Brian McBride dished to Ljungberg who made an overlapping right toward the right side. Ljungberg crossed to Nyarko who shot the ball toward the right side of the net for the match's final goal.
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