Photo by Jeff Vorva
Khaly Thiam, shown in a match earlier this year, scored his first goal for the Fire June 22, but his team lost a wild 4-3 battle to Philadelphia.
SAN JOSE AT CHICAGO FIRE
WHEN: 7 p.m., Friday
WHERE: Toyota Park in Bridgeview
FIRE RECORD: 2-7-5
SAN JOSE’S RECORD: 5-4-7
LAST TIME: San Jose came up with a 2-1 victory March, 22, 2015 in the third game of the season in California when Fatai Alashe and Ty Hardin scored in the first 21 minutes. Harry Shipp scored in the 29th minute for the Fire and both defenses locked down on the scoring the rest of the way.
RED STARS AT WESTERN NEW YORK
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Rhino’s Stadium, Rochester, New York
RED STARS RECORD: 5-2-3
FLASH RECORD: 6-4-0
LAST TIME: Casey Short’s goal in the first half gave the Red Stars a 1-0 victory over the Flash on April 23 at Toyota Park in the Red Stars’ home opener.
A lousy night suffered by Fire and Red Stars
The Fire played out east on the same night the Red Stars played out west and neither Chicago team came home with a point.
The Fire finally got its offense in gear but suffered a 4-3 setback at Philadelphia on June 22, the same night the Red Stars lost their footing for first place with a 2-0 setback to new National Women’s Soccer League-leader Portland.
The Fire had an 11-match streak in Major League Soccer in which it had one or zero goals heading into Philadelphia and when it fell behind 4-1 to the Eastern Conference-leading Union, it was in danger of suffering its worst loss of the year.
Razvan Cocis and Khaly Thiam prevented that with goals in the 69th and 80th minutes respectively, but the Fire couldn’t knot things up the rest of the way.
First-year Fire coach Veljko Paunovic, who was getting aggravated with his team’s losing ways even before this match, was disappointed after his team fell to 2-7-5 on the season and has endured a 32-match road streak without a victory. But he was glad his team put itself in a position to tie or take the lead in the closing minutes.
“We said that when I came to Chicago that we will fight every single game until the end and that's what we proved,’’ Paunovic said. “Of course that's not enough, we've got to get better, we've got to win games, overall we have to improve."
David Accam, who spent an unhealthy chunk of the season on the shelf with a knee injury, scored his sixth goal in seven games to open the scoring. He has 27 goals in 31 games played on the MLS level and if he can stay healthy and when new player Michael de Leeuw is eligible July 9, maybe the Fire can make multiple goal games a habit.
The defense has usually been solid or stellar most of the season but it allowed four goals against Philadelphia (7-4-5) including a hat trick from Roland Alberg. His first goal banged off the goal, off defender Jonathan Campbell and into the net in the 11th minute. Toward the end of the first half, Alberg struck again after goalie Sean Johnson and teammate Johan Kappelhof deflected shots to open the sequence.
"I don't believe in being unlucky, I just believe in performance and I think that in those situations we could react better for sure,’’ the coach said.
Meanwhile in Portland, the Red Stars (5-2-3) managed just three shots on goal and none found the net and will part ways with star players Christen Press, Alyssa Naeher and Julie Johnston for five games as they train for and play in Olympic competition.
The loss snapped an eight-match unbeaten streak for the Red Stars, who gave up both goals in the first 25 minutes of the match. Christine Sinclair popped a shot in early at the 6-minute mark and Nadia Nadim added one at the 25-minute mark.
The Fire and Gilberto parted ways as both sides mutually agreed to terminate his contract, the team announced.
The Brazilian striker was reported to have been paid a team-high $1.14 million this season. He had no goals and two assists in nine matches.
"Despite his best efforts, Gilberto was not able to reach his top form in Major League Soccer," said Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez. "He is a good person, with a big heart and a passion for the game, and we hope he finds success at his next stop."
Gilberto was signed by the Fire as a Designated Player on July 27 after the club claimed him on waivers. In his first season with the Fire, he scored five goals and added two assists in ten games but this year struggled.
The Fire knocked off Columbus, 2-1 June 28 in the round of 16 of the 103rd Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Toyota Park. Accam had both goals and had four goals in two Hunt Cup games. The Fire hosts either Orlando City of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the quarterfinals on July 20.
Even though the team has been struggling in MLS play, winning Cup games has not been taken lightly.
"The Cup is important for this club,’’ Accam said. “As a player, every game is important, we want to win every game. We take every game with seriousness, and for us every time we play a game, we try to win it."
Goalie Matt Lampson, who had not played in the Fire’s previous five MLS games, picked up his second Cup start and victory.