Quakes-Fire Match Preview

San Jose is looking for its second-ever road win against the Chicago Fire on Saturday

Ike Opara 032010_JohnTodd3

Photo Credit: 
John Todd

What’s at stake?
Both teams are looking for their first win of 2010. It’s the home opener for the Fire, who will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 5-4-6 record at Toyota Park in 2009. The match is also San Jose 'keeper Jon Busch’s first in Chicago since he was released by the team less than a week before the season.

Last meeting
The Fire scored two goals in the final 10 minutes of the game to secure a 2-0 win over the Earthquakes. Offseason departure Cuauhtemoc Blanco led the Fire to victory, notching an assist in the 82nd minute and a goal in second half stoppage time to down the Quakes.

Heroes & Villains
Ryan Johnson vs. Wilman Conde: Johnson, who played for the Fire briefly in 2006, scored 11 goals for the Quakes last year and comes in as San Jose’s biggest scoring threat. Colombian center back Conde, a 2009 MLS First XI selection, returns from a foot injury that kept him out of last week’s game at Colorado to lead the Fire’s backline against Johnson—who bagged a goal in the team’s first meeting last season.

Collins John vs. Ike Opara: John and Opara, both in their first seasons in MLS, will likely see a lot of each other on the field Saturday night. John, who has made appearances in both of the Fire’s matches this season, scored his first MLS goal in last week’s draw at the Colorado Rapids. Opara, the third overall pick this year, went 90 minutes in the Earthquakes’ season opening 3-0 defeat to Real Salt Lake and will have to shore up his performance against John and the Fire.

Stat that makes you go, “Hmm ... ”
The Fire has never lost a home opener at Toyota Park. The club is 3-0-1 in all openers at their Bridgeview, Ill. stadium since it opened in 2006.

He said it
“I always think [San Jose] is dangerous team. They haven’t done so well in certain instances of the game so far but they have a lot of talent and if you sleep on them they will crush you. So for us we’ve got to stay disciplined, stay compact and when we get our chances we’ve got to bury them.”—Fire defender C.J. Brown