ORLANDO – After four months of waiting for a match of any kind, then a six-day delay after a cancellation, Chicago Fire FC’s first game since the pandemic began brought a lot of excitement.
A victory over the defending MLS champion Sounders on Tuesday included a goal from the team’s biggest free agent signee and a homegrown player. The 2-1 triumph was the first win of 2020 for the club and gave hopes to a potential run to the knockout round.
But that enthusiam was tempered a big in the Fire’s second game of the MLS is Back Tournament at Wide World of Sports in Orlando. A strong San Jose team, who already had two games under their belt over the past two weeks, stopped their momentum over the course of 90 minutes.
While the Fire got through 45 scoreless minutes against the Earthquakes, they weren’t able to keep the defense up in the second half. San Jose struck for a pair of goals and their opponents had no response in a 2-0 loss on Sunday night.
As the Earthquakes officially clinch Group B with a win, the Fire will have work to do against Vancouver on Thursday morning in their final preliminary round game. The Whitecaps and Sounders play on Sunday night.
Cristian Espinoza opened the scoring in the 56th minute as he took a pass and drove downfield, firing it past Kenneth Kronholm for the score to make it 1-0. Prolific Earthquakes goal scorer Chris Wondolowski would add some insurance in the 83rd minute with a header goal to make it 2-0.
Meanwhile the Fire couldn’t generate many quality chances on offense in a physical match that saw 34 total fouls and eight yellow cards between the clubs. It was an evening that stopped some momentum Raphael Wicky’s team had in Orlando, but there still is one more game to get it back .