SAN JOSE, Calif. – In the first regular-season game at Avaya Stadium, the San Jose Earthquakes rode a pair of first-ever MLS goals to victory Sunday.
Harrison Shipp pulled one back with Chicago’s first goal of 2015, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Fire from falling to 0-3-0 on the season.
San Jose (2-1-0) are over .500 for the first time since 2013 under the guidance of new coach Dominic Kinnear.
Alashe needed less than five minutes to write his name in the San Jose history books, nodding home a pinballing corner kick after Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson charged off his line but failed to connect with a punch on the ball. JJ Koval’s initial header of Matias Perez Garcia’s corner kick deflected off of Harden. Clarence Goodson, making his first appearance for the Quakes since July 11, touched a header goalward, and Alashe headed it home to break in the $100 million arena.
Johnson was also victimized in the 21st minute, when Goodson fired a left-footed volley off a deep free kick from Perez Garcia. Johnson was able to make a kick save on Goodson’s attempt, but could not prevent the rebound, which Harden knocked in with a sliding right-footed touch. Harden had logged more than 7,500 career minutes before finding the back of the net.
Shipp buoyed the Fire’s hopes just before the half-hour mark – and broke their season-long scoreless drought at 209 minutes – with a sneaky run behind an overshifted Quakes defense. Joevin Jones picked out Shipp with a knifing pass, and the second-year midfielder coolly stroked his shot around onrushing San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham.
Chicago coach Frank Yallop threw on David Accam at the half for his MLS debut, then added Kennedy Igboananike in the 67th minute to put all three of his Designated Players on the pitch for the first time this season. But even though the Fire held the majority of possession in the closing period, they couldn’t find a way past Bingham and a hunkered-down San Jose defense which featured a brand-new center back pairing in Harden and Goodson. The duo replaced suspended Victor Benardez and injured Paulo Renato.
Quincy Amarikwa burst in alone on Bingham in the 50th, but couldn’t lift his shot over the 6-foot-2 goalkeeper. Accam made a strong run to the edge of San Jose’s area in the 78th, only to be bowled over by a strong shoulder-to-shoulder challenge from Marvell Wynne. And Goodson laid out to smother a blast from Fire defender Eric Gehrig in second-half injury time.
For San Jose, Chris Wondolowski popped up, unmarked, just outside Chicago’s six-yard box and collected a Perez Garcia free kick in the 64th, forcing a sliding deflection from Gehrig. Koval nearly bagged an insurance score in the 84th minute with a near-post header from a free kick that flashed just wide across the face of goal.