A quick look at the injury list for Friday’s match between the Chicago Fire and the San Jose Earthquakes tells two different stories.
The Fire (2-7-5, 11 points) have a few players who are coming back from injury and may be limited, but no players are listed as out, which has been rare this season. Matt Polster could make his return from a concussion suffered June 15 against Indy Eleven. Arturo Alvarez, Collin Fernandez and Khaly Thiam are also listed as questionable for Friday.
Visiting San Jose (5-4-7, 22 points) would love to trade injury lists and have just a few banged up bodies. The Earthquakes have seven players listed as out, including the typical starting centerback pair of Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez.
Goodson has been out with a back injury since starting the first two matches of the season and Bernardez went down in the Earthquakes’ 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy on June 25. When Bernandez left in the ninth minute, Fatai Alashe, typically a midfielder, played at centerback next to Marvell Wynne, who has played centerback but usually plays as a right back.
“You’ve just got to deal with it,” San Jose coach Dominic Kinnear said after the LA game. “Looking down the bench, we don’t really have a center back, per se, so Fatai is the next one in line. It’s just the thought of, ‘What’s the best combination?’ and Fatai was the easy [choice].”
Andres Imperiale, another defender, is also out along with Jordan Stewart, Mark Sherrod, Marc Pelosi and Bryan Meredith.
The good news for San Jose is that Chris Wondolowski is expected to make his return after playing with the U.S. in the Copa America.
“We will have to have the possession, be smart,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said of Friday’s game. “I think they have a very narrow style of play.”
Paunovic spoke of how important Wondolowski is to San Jose. Wondolowski has seven goals in 12 games this season. Next to him up top has typically been former Fire striker Quincy Amarikwa, who has a goal and three assists.
The Earthquakes went winless in the five matches without Wondolowski, including a U.S. Open loss at Portland, and are 0-4-4 on the road this season.
While the Fire don’t have as many injuries, they are coming off shorter rest. The Fire played Tuesday against Columbus in the Open Cup while the Earthquakes were already out of the tournament so they had a few extra days rest.
The Fire are coming off one of the team’s better performances of the year, a 2-1 win against Columbus. Confidence should be high against a wounded San Jose team.
“I think to be fair we’re playing some good football,” Fire forward David Accam said. “For us, even though we’re not getting results I have confidence in my teammates and confidence in this team and I know for sure we will start getting results. For now we just have to keep enjoying what we’re doing and the results will come.”