MLS: Looking to end nine-match winless skid, Earthquakes face Fire

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San Jose Earthquakes interim coach Ian Russell says he likes having pressure on him.

Well, Russell is getting that and more as he tries to turn around a team that owns the worst record in the MLS and is struggling through a nine-match winless streak.

San Jose gets another chance to end the skid against the visiting Chicago Fire on Sunday.

The Earthquakes (3-16-2, 11 points) sit in last place in the Western Conference standings and haven’t scored a goal in two matches under Russell. They last played on Wednesday night, suffering a 2-0 loss at St. Louis.

“It’s frustrating,” Russell said of the team’s struggles. “We just have to keep working. Big mistakes keep on hurting us that we have to fix. We don’t finish when we need to and we get goals conceded at inappropriate moments.”

Defense has been an issue for San Jose, which has permitted an MLS-worst 56 goals. Since a 3-2 win at Colorado on May 11, the Earthquakes have yielded a whopping 28 markers and scored only nine while going 0-8-1.

Chicago (5-10-6, 21 points) hasn’t been much better but at least has positive momentum going into Sunday. The Fire trailed 3-1 in the 82nd minute on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Union before storming back for a stunning 4-3 home win.

Hugo Cuypers scored a brace, including the match-winner in the second minute of stoppage time, and Gaston Gimenez delivered the tying goal in the 89th minute. Maren Haile-Selassie added a goal and two assists, giving him four straight matches with a goal.

Chicago coach Frank Klopas, whose team is playing its third match in nine days, is wary of wearing out key players.

“We have three games in one week,” he said. “We have to rotate some of our guys. We want to keep our players fresh so we can get the best results.”

The Fire own a 16-14-11 lead in the all-time series. This is the teams’ first matchup in two years.

–Field Level Media

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