Fire Earn Road Point with 1-1 Draw against San Jose Earthquakes
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Chicago Fire (9-7-5; 32 points), propelled by Chris Rolfe’s 37th minute goal and Sean Johnson’s 10 saves, had victory snatched away when Steven Lenhart’s 98th minute shot pierced the back of the net as the Fire tied the MLS-leading San Jose Earthquakes (13-5-5, 44 points) 1-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday night.
The Men in Red came out looking to play as the California sun set over the Santa Clara valley. Nyarko found space on the right flank before cutting into the middle of the park. The Ghanaian playmaker found his countryman Dominic Oduro at the top of the 18-yard box where he snuck through before slamming his shot right into former Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch.
A back-and-forth pace made for plenty of opportunities on both sides of the ball. In what would be the first of five saves in the first half for Sean Johnson, Simon Dawkins found the ball at his feet in the 20th minute. The ‘Quakes midfielder lashed a shot on goal forcing Johnson to fully extend to push the ball wide of the far post.
The Fire nearly drew first blood in the 26th minute when center back Austin Berry chested down a ball over the top for a wide open Alex at the edge of the box. The Brazilian took the shot off the bounce only for Busch to parry away the half-volley and keep the match level at 0-0.
The Fire would find the back of the net on a piece of pure class from Rolfe in the 37th minute. Patrick Nyarko collected the ball on the right side before cutting inside and feeding Rolfe just inside the area. Rolfe sent a measured, looping side-footed shot over the outstretched arms of Busch and into the goal to give the Fire a 1-0 advantage. Rolfe, the Fire’s second all-time leading scorer (38) tallied his second goal since returning to the Fire April 16.
Johnson continued his masterful performance into the second half. In the 59th minute, with an Alan Gordon shot destined for goal and the whole of Buck Shaw on its feet in celebration, Johnson extended his arm and knocked the ball clear of goal to preserve the 1-0 lead.
The Fire nearly doubled its lead in the 79th minute when newly acquired Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald sprung Logan Pause on an overlapping run on the right side. Pause charged in on goal, with only Busch to beat, only to have his shot deflected by the ‘Quakes goalkeeper.
With five minutes of stoppage time added, the match turned chippy. Alan Gordon saw his second yellow of the game in the 93rd minute on a studs up challenge on Dan Gargan in the Fire’s penalty area. Reduced to 10-men, the ‘Quakes still committed numbers forward in search of the equalizer deep into added time.
The home side would eventually level the match when Wondolowski played a ball off his chest for Lenhart in the middle of the field. The wild-haired forward crushed a volleyed shot that slid past Johnson and into goal at the near post leaving the match knotted at 1-1 on 98 minutes.
The Men in Red return to Chicago to take on Toronto FC at Toyota Park on Saturday, Aug. 4 at 7:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes). Advance tickets are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire, by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com or Ticketmaster.
Sean Johnson notched a career-high 10 saves as he stoned San Jose for much of the evening. Johnson tallied five saves along on ‘Quakes midfielder Simon Dawkins. Johnson broke his previous career high of eight saves which he set June 23 in a 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew.
The Fire have only allowed four goals in the previous six matches.
Chris Rolfe tallied his second goal of the season. Rolfe now has 38 career goals for the Men in Red.
Helping on Rolfe’s goal, Patrick Nyarko now has four assists on the season.
Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald made his Fire debut, coming on in the 64th minute.
Newly acquired designated player Alvaro Fernandez will join the Fire in Chicago to begin training with the team ahead of Saturday’s fixture against Toronto FC.
The Fire were without midfielder Marco Pappa who was suspended with yellow card accumulation.
Gonzalo Segares missed the match with a left ankle sprain. Segares took a knock in training Wednesday and did not travel to San Jose.
San Jose remains undefeated at Buck Shaw Stadium this season. The ‘Quakes are 6-0-3 in matches played in Santa Clara.
Steven Lenhart scored on Steven Lenhart wig night.
Chicago Fire 1 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Dan Gargan; Logan Pause ©, Pavel Pardo; Chris Rolfe (Daniel Paladini, 89’), Alex (Hunter Jumper, 83’), Patrick Nyarko; Dominic Oduro (Sherjill MacDonald, 64’)
Substitutes not used: Jay Nolly, Michael Videira, Corben Bone, Orr Barouch
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch; Jed Zayner (Sam Garza, 72’), Victor Bernardez (Ike Opara, 81’), Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow; Shea Salinas, Rafael Baca (Steven Lenhart, 59’), Sam Cronin, Simon Dawkins; Alan Gordon, Chris Wondolowski ©
Substitutes not used: David Bingham, Ramiro Corrales, Sercan Guvenisik, Khari Stephenson
CHI – Chris Rolfe (Patrick Nyarko) 37’
SJ – Steven Lenhart (Chris Wondolowski, Shea Salinas) 98’
SJ – Alan Gordon (caution) 54’
CHI – Dan Gargan (caution) 70’
SJ – Alan Gordon (ejection) 93’
SJ – Chris Wondolowski (caution) 93’
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistants: Ian Anderson, Baboucarr Jallow
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal