SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes defeated Chicago Fire FC 2-1 on Sunday evening at PayPal Park. San Jose improves to 4-0-1 at home under interim head coach Alex Covelo.
Following a scoreless first half, the Earthquakes broke through less than two minutes into the second half. At the end of a chaotic sequence that saw a diving save and two shots off the woodwork, Benji Kikanović scored a close-range finish to give the home side the lead. Kikanović then doubled the Quakes’ lead with his second goal of the night by curling a left-footed shot just inside the far post in the 87th minute.
Moments before the final whistle, Chicago pulled a goal back through Brian Gutierrez.
The Earthquakes will now prepare for two consecutive road matches, first traveling to Canada to face Toronto FC on Saturday, July 9. The match will kick off from BMO Field at 4:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California, KNBR 1050 (English), and 1370 KZSF (Spanish).
The Earthquakes currently hold a 4-7-6 record (18 pts.) during the 2022 MLS regular season.
San Jose is now 13-16-11 all-time vs. Chicago Fire FC, including a 10-6-5 record at home.
The Quakes are now 4-3-3 in MLS play under interim head coach Alex Covelo. San Jose’s three losses were road contests against NYCFC, LAFC, and RSL, who are a combined 19-2-7 at home this season.
Forward Benji Kikanovic scored his first and second goals of the season and fifth and sixth goals of his MLS career. His second goal of the night was also the second game-winning goal of his MLS career. It marked the first multi-goal game of his MLS career.
Midfielder Jamiro Monteiro tallied his sixth assist of the season, tied for eighth most in MLS, and 27th assist of his MLS career. It also marked his first game-winning assist of the season and ninth of his MLS career.
2022 MLS Regular Season
San Jose Earthquakes 2 – 1 Chicago Fire FC
Sunday, July 3, 2022 – PayPal Park in San Jose, Calif.
Man of the Match: Benji Kikanović
SJ (1-0) – Benji Kikanovic (unassisted) 47’
SJ (2-0) – Benji Kikanovic (Jamiro Monteiro) 87’
CHI (2-1) – Brian Gutierrez (Jhon Duran) 90+5’
CHI – Chris Mueller (caution) 31’
CHI – Gaston Gimenez (caution) 43’
SJ – Paul Marie (caution) 63’
SJ – Benji Kikanovic (caution) 73’
SJ – Marcos Lopez (caution) 75’
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: JT Marcinkowski; Marcos Lopez, Tanner Beason, Nathan, Paul Marie (Tommy Thompson 79); Benji Kikanovic, Jan Gregus (Judson 79), Jackson Yueill (C), Jamiro Monteiro, Cristian Espinoza (Shea Salinas 90+4); Jeremy Ebobisse.
Substitutes not used: Oskar Ågren, Matt Bersano, Ousseni Bouda, Cade Cowell, Eric Remedi, Jack Skahan.
SHOTS: 22; SHOTS ON GOAL: 8; FOULS: 11; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 5
CHICAGO FIRE FC: Gabriel Slonina, Boris Sekulić (Jhon Espinoza 61), Jonathan Bornstein (Andre Reynolds II 46), Rafael Czichos (C), Carlos Teran; Chris Mueller, Xherdan Shaqiri (Brian Gutierrez 61), Fabian Herbers, Gaston Gimenez, Federico Navarro; Kacper Przybylko (Jhon Duran 77).
Substitutes not used: Victor Bezerra, Javier Casas, Stanislav Ivanov, Spencer Richey, Jairo Torres.
SHOTS: 18; SHOTS ON GOAL: 6; FOULS: 17; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 6
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES INTERIM HEAD COACH ALEX COVELO
On takeaways of today’s match and what improvements stood out on the attacking side:
“I believe Jamiro [Monteiro] too was important in helping us on the attacking end. We start every week by being better each week. We try to find solutions to beat them and tonight the guys did very well. It’s what we try to do every week, understanding the opponent we are going to face, sometimes we are luckier and have more opportunities, other times we are unlucky. The guys read the game very well, finding Benji [Kikanović], Jeremy [Ebobisse], and Cristian [Espinoza] behind and understanding that Chicago was going to press a high line and we knew that we had to get a few passes in and get into that space. What we did not do well sometimes, though, was the balls that we always talk about with the transitions, it’s something that we need to keep working on. We need to also remember that is been three and a half years working in a different system.”
On tonight’s performance defensively and how it’s being worked on:
“You’ve seen games all over the world, when the ball gets crossed into the box, after there needs to be a shift from the ball and rotate. Sometimes the defenders and the players lose reference of their mark and that’s why goals happen. We need to keep improving and stay focused on how to better defend the box in order to defend well. The team is improving, obviously [other teams] are going to create opportunities, if not goals would not happen. We are still working on that, and we are going to be better every day. In relation to the defense, today we wanted to press them high and take the risk. That’s why sometimes we were a little bit more open than usual, but we wanted to wait and went for it.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD BENJI KIKANOVIĆ
On the team’s offensive performance tonight:
“I think offensively everyone played pretty well: Cristian [Espinoza], Jamiro [Monteiro], Jebo [Jeremy Ebobisse], myself, but I think they did a really good job finding me in pockets. We knew during the whole week that I was going to have space out wide, and I just tried to do my thing. I think they just found me in good areas. The first goal, I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time. It was crazy, it was like a FIFA goal, but I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to just tap it in. In the second one, I want to say Tommy [Thompson] played me in, but I’m not sure, I forgot. Then, I saw Cristian coming and I was actually going to whip it across because I had tried one earlier with my left foot and it didn’t work out, so I thought ‘let me take a shot.’ The keeper [Gabriel Slonina] had been making some good saves so I thought let me just try to put it hard and low because he’s a big dude so by the time he gets down it will be a little tougher, and it just went in. But I think for the most part we played really well, especially more so in the second half. We had chances in the first half, but we didn’t really put too many on target.”
On scoring his first two goals of the season:
“I just took more shots on goal, and they just went in. Usually, I feel like I don’t shoot too much, and I feel like that’s something that I need to improve on in my game. I just took my chances, and they went in. There’s not too much to it, but I think as a whole, everyone played together, especially them finding me. I think that also helped out. It’s always good when you get the ball a lot because I know that I can create things and make things happen going forward, not only for myself but for my teammates as well.”