Nobody ever bothers to ask for the attendance at San Jose Earthquakes games anymore. Even at the most sparsely attended games, the club announce another official sellout, as they have at every single MLS game at Avaya Stadium since the its opening in 2015. Perhaps they were just waiting for a game like tonight’s, their worst-ever MLS defeat at Avaya, to report the first non-sellout in the Avaya era.
As if the club’s 4-1 defeat to the Chicago Fire weren’t embarrassing enough. The Fire comprehensively dismantled a disjointed and sluggish Quakes team, nearly extinguishing the home side’s playoff hopes with three games left in the season.
There were promising signs early on for the Quakes as Wondolowski fired a low effort on target, but Chicago’s superiority was evident nearly from the get-go. Anibal Godoy and Jackson Yeuill were hopelessly unequipped to handle Chicago’s dynamic midfield and there were huge gaps of space for the visitors to attack. Michael De Leeuw and Luis Solignac had a field day up top, setting up Golden Boot contender Nemanja Nikolic for an early effort at the top of the box.
Leitch set up in a back-four with Florian Jungwirth and Francois Affolter rooting the defense, after deserting his experiment with a 3-5-2 formation and the pairing’s lack of chemistry was painfully evident. Djorde Mihailovic buried Chicago’s first on fifteen minutes after De Leeuw sucked Affolter out of position, the first of many such occasions on the night.
Goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell produced heroic saves to deny dangerous efforts from Solignac and Nikolic, twice, but it wasn’t enough to stop Chicago’s onslaught. Solignac converted another five minutes from the half when De Leeuw floated a gorgeous cross to the far post and jeers loudly greeted the halftime whistle. It only got worse on the other side of the break, though, as Nikolic capitalized on Tarbell’s poor distribution to make it four for Chicago.
Leitch threw on Vako around the hour mark after a Nick Lima injury, but the Quakes seemed out of ideas and mentally defeated. Chicago’s fourth goal was perhaps the most embarrassing for the Quakes as Tarbell was caught ball-watching after De Leeuw’s shot bounced off the crossbar, giving Nikolic the opportunity to convert the rebound.
Wondolowski converted a Vako cross late on to draw one back but the match was long gone as a contest and when the final whistle sounded, Jungwirth booted the ball towards goal out of frustration. It missed.