Match Recap

MATCH RECAP: Earthquakes 1, Chicago Fire FC 0


SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Earthquakes defeated Chicago Fire FC 1-0 on Sunday night at PayPal Park to earn their first clean sheet of the season and snap a six-game losing streak as Ian Russell earned his first win as interim head coach.

After a scoreless first half, midfielder Hernán López got the Quakes on the board first when he hauled in a long pass from Cristian Espinoza and beat goalkeeper Chris Brady in the 49th minute. The visitors appeared to equalize in the 71st minute when Hugo Cuypers headed in a rebound off the crossbar, but video review called it back for offside. The Black and Blue put on a collective effort to close out the game defensively.

The Quakes will continue their homestand against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, July 13. Kickoff from PayPal Park is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast globally on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, as well as on local radio AM 810 The Spread (English) and AM 1370 La Kaliente (Spanish).


As of tonight’s final whistle, San Jose’s record now stands at 4-16-2 (14th in West; 14 pts), while Chicago Fire FC moves to 5-11-6 (13th in East; 21 pts).

Tonight’s win snapped a six-game losing streak dating back to a 1-1 home draw with Austin FC on May 25 and nine-game winless streak dating back to May 11’s 3-2 road win over the Colorado Rapids.

The Quakes earned their first clean sheet of the 2024 MLS season for San Jose in the 22nd game. The club’s last shutout in regular-season play occurred on Sept. 9, 2023, in a scoreless road draw against D.C. United.

San Jose is now 14-16-11 (53 GF, 58 GA) in the all-time series against Chicago Fire FC and 11-6-5 at home (33 GF, 25 GA). The Quakes have won their last three meetings at PayPal Park, with the last one a 2-1 decision on July 3, 2022, on the strength of a Benji Kikanović brace. The forward beat then-Fire goalkeeper Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina in the 47th and 87th minutes.

Quakes forwards Cristian Espinoza and Jeremy Ebobisse started Saturday’s match, extending their MLS-leading active consecutive games played streaks to 96 and 95, respectively.

Ebobisse made his 100th and 101st appearances with San Jose against St. Louis CITY SC last Wednesday and tonight against Chicago Fire FC, respectively.

With his start tonight, Earthquakes midfielder and captain Jackson Yueill passed Shea Salinas in games started for San Jose (184) for third on the all-time club list. The midfielder now only trails Ramiro Corrales (228) and Chris Wondolowski (313).

Midfielder Hernán López scored his fourth goal of the season in 10 MLS starts (12 appearances).

Espinoza notched his 11th assist of the season, tied for 4th in MLS. He is now is the Quakes’ all-time leader in game-winning assists with 15, passing Richard Mulrooney and Shea Salinas (tied, 14). With his assist tonight, Espinoza is only one goal contribution away from 100 for the Earthquakes. Only Chris Wondolowski’s 207 (167g/40a) and Ronald Cerritos’ 108 (61g/47a) are higher totals among San Jose players, past or present.


San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Chicago Fire FC

Sunday, July 7, 2024 – PayPal Park; San Jose, Calif.

Weather: 92°F Sunny

Man of the Match presented by Coors Light: Hernán López

Match Officials:

Referee: Ramy Touchan

AR1: Jeffrey Greeson

AR2: Diego Blas

4th Official: Victor Rivas

VAR: David Barrie

AVAR: Peter Balciunas

Scoring Summary:

SJ (1-0) – Hernán López (Cristian Espinoza) 49’

Misconduct Summary:

CHI – Rafael Czichos (caution) 24’

CHI – Kellyn Acosta (caution) 37’

SJ – Hernán López (caution) 62’

SJ – Jack Skahan (caution) 87’

CHI – Fabian Herbers (caution) 90+5’

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: William Yarbrough; Vítor Costa (Tommy Thompson 85’), Tanner Beason, Rodrigues (Jack Skahan 81’), Daniel Munie; Carlos Gruezo, Jackson Yueill (Alfredo Morales 81’), Hernán López; Benji Kikanović, Cristian Espinoza (Preston Judd 81’), Jeremy Ebobisse (Amahl Pellegrino 88’).

Substitutes not used: Jacob Jackson (GK), Michael Baldisimo, Paul Marie, Will Richmond.

POSS.: 46.7%; SHOTS: 13; SOG: 4; CORNERS: 7; OFFSIDES: 3; SAVES: 1; FOULS: 7; xG: 1.1

CHICAGO FIRE FC: Chris Brady; Arnaud Souquet, Rafael Czichos, Wyatt Omsberg, Allan Arigoni; Maren Haile-Selassie, Chris Mueller (Tom Barlow 63’), Brian Gutierrez, Kellyn Acosta (Georgios Koutsias 89’), Gaston Gimenez (Fabian Herbers 64’); Hugo Cuypers.

Substitutes not used: Spencer Richey (GK), Javier Casas, Jonathan Dean, Diego Konincks, Mauricio Pineda.

POSS.: 53.3%; SHOTS: 10; SOG: 1; CORNERS: 5; OFFSIDES: 2; SAVES: 3; FOULS: 11; xG: 0.9


On snapping the losing streak:

“We needed to win tonight. The [California] Clásico was disappointing. Then our game against St. Louis. I thought we were pretty flat coming out. So I thought we were on the front foot all night. Deserved the win. Just really happy with how our players responded.”

On Cristian Espinoza’s assist and Hernán López’s game-winning goal:

“Great ball by Cristian. Takes a touch and [Hernán] finishes it. Just shows his class. He's obviously done well since he's come here and I expect more of those goals from him.”

On the Chicago Fire FC goal being reversed after a VAR check for offside:

“We've had a lot of those close ones kind of go the other way. So in that moment, it was a relief that that happened. … I think it gave the players a little relief, and then we're able to make some changes after that to kind of slow them down with it.”

On the return of Carlos Gruezo after international duty with Ecuador:

“I thought he was excellent. We missed him. Niko [Tsakiris] and Jackson [Yueill] have done a really good job in there. But Carlos does give us a little of that bite defensively. He just came off a disappointing loss in Copa América, where he played 80 minutes. I didn't even ask. I didn't even look at him. You're playing the whole game. I needed him in there. So really proud of Carlos.”

On how the team came together collectively for the win:

“I don't want to say it felt comfortable because there were moments in that game that were uncomfortable. It didn't feel as open. It didn't feel like every time we lost the ball that we were vulnerable. So that was good. I thought Rodrigues had a very good game. Hernán with the goal. Will Yarborough made some really big saves at the end. Not so much general shot-blocking but he came out for some crosses at the end of the game and slowed the game down. I also want to point out Benji Kikanović. I thought he was excellent as a wingback. It's not his normal position. And I thought Jebo (Jeremy Ebobisse) up front held the ball up really well and ran the channels.”

On changes moving forward heading into Leagues Cup:

“The main object for us was to stop conceding goals. It's the first clean sheet we've had in this MLS season. I'm super proud of the team. We needed to grind out a game like that. A 1-0 win. It gives us a lot of confidence moving forward with Leagues Cup. We'll approach that when we get there but it's a tournament we really want to do well in obviously. We just need to build momentum from this game and carry on.”

On forward Benji Kikanović playing wing back tonight:

“Just physically very fast. He can do it over and over. He’s not a guy that needs five minutes to recover. Very good in the air, works extremely hard. His defending has gotten a lot better over the last few years. I think he's got a really high ceiling. He's still young, so just really excited. He's a guy that never complained, just does his business. He'll do anything for the team.”


On playing with a back line of five players:

“Playing with the back fives are tricky because a lot of people think you're playing a defensive formation. And it's not the case, especially with the way things are now. I think it was an excellent formation. It gives us a little bit of that structure in the back, always having one of the wing backs because you still always have those four in the back. So you're a little more compact — where, when you're shifting the distances —distances aren't as far and it's harder for teams to play between us, right? But it's all turned out. It's all about, including myself, staying compact, making things tougher for the other teams. I think we felt a little more comfortable.”

On breaking the losing streak and addressing the San Jose Ultras questioning the players’ commitment:

“I talk to guys in the locker room and I know they're just as frustrated as I am. And I wouldn't be surprised if our fans are frustrated. You know, we've had a very poor season. We can't hide away from that. You know what it means to me; it's my life. You know, I started playing when I was five years old. I've dedicated 100% of myself to the sport every day. I left home when I was 15 years old, moved away from the comfort of my home. Sacrificed birthdays, Christmases, family members’ weddings. I have a brother getting married next weekend. I’m playing, you know, and it means everything to me.

“One thing that I've always had in the back of my mind is I take into consideration everything that the fans feel because we're a team and it's not just the players in the locker room. It's not just the staff that comes into the building. It's a society, everyone. And when you're not delivering, it's frustrating. It's very frustrating. I know they spend a lot of money to come watch us, and we haven't been our sharpest. And so getting little victories like today, they're happy for today. So are we, but we have another game Saturday. … We’re grinding. We're grinding. Personally this is my life. Until the day my body says no or otherwise. I'm going to give 100% of myself to this.”

On Rodrigues’ performance in helping keep the clean sheet:

“Rodri is a classic defender. I love having him on on my team in that backline. I love the confidence that he has. He loves taking risks, and I admire that. Today he had an excellent performance. We were frustrated, especially in the back. … And so to see tonight that all the hard work being put in paid off on a night like today, especially speaking specifically about Rodri, I’m basically so happy for the guy. I know he's going to go home tonight and have a relaxed night, and he's going to enjoy the day off tomorrow. Then he's going to come back Tuesday ready to go again. We all have to, but Rodri is a dude who I love having in the back line and I love that no matter how things are going. I love the confidence that he shows to try to play this style regardless of what's going on.”

On earning the first clean sheet of the MLS season:

“We need to try to do something to change what we know we're capable of. It definitely helps. You know when like today there’s a clean sheet but you're going into [the] Kansas City [game] next weekend. I want three or four or five in a row. I'll enjoy the night today, but tomorrow we have an off-day. I'm looking at film right away, seeing what I can improve on and certain things that I can discuss with teammates and do everything I can to make it two in a row. I like that pressure. I like that weight on my shoulders. It's been a part of my entire career. And you know, hopefully we can make a turnaround.”


On winning tonight:

“This victory brought us a lot of confidence to me, to my teammates, to everyone. We know there’s another challenge next Saturday, but again, this victory brought us a boost of confidence to look for another one.”

On the back line adapting to a new formation:

“I believe I had a good performance tonight. We've been preparing the whole week for it, so we were ready for it. We counted on our teammates to make it happen.”

“It’s a new formation, and I’m adapting to it. It has more people supporting the back line which is good. I’m adapting it, pushing forward to the next game, and hopefully having that same outcome.”

On using the win as momentum for the rest of the season:

“We know that we started the season in a tough position how our games have been, but we know we have to keep the consistency and have the strong mentality to move forward with our teammates. That’s what we did today.”

“Today's victory was really important. You can be sure that we’ll continue to put in the work in training and next week. Next week will also be a tough one, but we’re looking forward for the victory.”

On the responsibility playing for the club and city:

“Since I got here in this club, I knew I had an important role to carry. Every game is like that. I know how big this club is, so every game I’m here, I look to do my best with my teammates. That’s always the focus. Moving forward, that’s what we want to do, make sure we communicate on the pitch to make everything works at its best.”