Steven Kinney opened up the scoring for the Fire

FINAL: Fire 3 - 0 San Jose

The San Jose Earthquakes’ game plan turned out to be a winning one at Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday night.

Too bad for the Quakes it was the Chicago Fire running the hosts’ playbook, step by step.

San Jose had put themselves into playoff contention through 24 matches by being able to absorb pressure from their opponents, then striking quickly against the run of play. That’s exactly what Chicago did Wednesday, getting goals from rookie Steven Kinney (his first as an MLS player), Freddie Ljungberg (his first as a Fire DP) and Patrick Nyarko (his first of the season) to leave the Quakes stunned by their first home loss since July 31.


Chicago (7-10-8) thus kept their flickering playoff hopes alive, while San Jose (11-8-6) slipped to eighth in the overall standings, sliding past Colorado, 4-1 victors over Philadelphia, and dropping behind Seattle on goal differential.

Kinney put an end to the Fire’s franchise-record scoreless streak at 401 minutes with a powerful header off Ljungberg’s corner kick in the 40th minute. The drought, which topped Chicago’s 395-minute string last season, dated back to Sept. 4.

Quakes ‘keeper Jon Busch, facing his former team for the first time since Chicago dumped him on the eve of the season, got his right hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out of the net.

The goal almost never happened. Ljungberg had sent in a weak corner moments earlier that posed little danger, but referee Abiodun Okulaja blew the play dead just before Ljungberg struck the ball to break up a wrestling match between Kinney and his marker, Brandon McDonald.

Ljungberg made the most of his second chance, curving a ball just over the head of Wondolowski and onto the head of Kinney, who was back in the starting lineup after missing two matches due to a left quad injury.

The Quakes thus found themselves trailing for the first time in five matches this month, even though they had controlled play for much of the half.

But San Jose could never convert that possession into anything more than half-chances. The Quakes were at their most dangerous when Bobby Convey, who was flipped over to the right wing for much of the half, cut back with the ball on a couple of occasions and floated crosses to the far post.

Wondolowski found Convey’s cross in the 23rd minute, and he appeared to have a potential case for hand ball against rookie Chicago center back Kwame Watson-Siriboe, but no call was forthcoming. 

Ryan Johnson was set up by Convey in the 36th, but his header back across the goalmouth rolled wide of the right post.

After the break, the Quakes started quickly, but their attack fizzled out. Chicago waited again for a chance to strike and found it in the 72nd minute, when Ljungberg used a deft first touch to split San Jose center backs McDonald andJason Hernandez. Ljungberg then slipped a left-footed shot past the charging Busch.

Nyarko just added icing to the cake with his first goal of the season. He controlled a cross from Ljungberg, dribbled around Chris Leitch and fired low past the helpless Busch in the 92nd.

Scoring summary

CHI – Steven Kinney 1 (Freddie Ljungberg 6) 39

CHI – Freddie Ljungberg 1 (Patrick Nyarko 8) 72

CHI – Patrick Nyarko 1 (Freddie Ljungberg 7, Brian McBride 3) 92

Misconduct summary

CHI – Krzysztof Krol (caution) 50

SJ – Geovanni (caution) 75


Chicago – Sean Johnson; Steven Kinney, Dasan Robinson, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Krzysztof Krol; Bratislav Ristic, Logan PauseJohn Thorrington (Wilman Conde 82), Marco Pappa (Patrick Nyarko 61); Calen Carr (Brian McBride 91), Freddie Ljungberg

Substitutes not used: Andrew DykstraC.J. BrownCollins JohnPeter Lowry

San Jose – Jon Busch; Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald, Tim Ward (Eduardo 64); Chris WondolowskiSam Cronin, Khari Stephenson (Arturo Alvarez 58), Bobby Convey; Geovanni, Ryan Johnson (Cornell Glen 75)

Substitutes not used: Brian Edwards, Bobby BurlingBrad RingScott Sealy

Referee: Abiodun Okulaja

Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson, Anthony Vasoli

4th Official: Yader Reyes

Weather: Clear and 82 degrees

Attendance: 9,829