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San Jose aims to keep momentum against Fire

1:36 PM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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Bridgeview, IL (Sports Network) - The San Jose Earthquakes were in need of a spark last month when the club fired head coach Frank Yallop following a poor start to the season.

Mark Watson replaced Yallop on an interim basis, and San Jose lost two of Watson's first three games in charge.

But following a 3-2 comeback win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in the California Clasico on Saturday, Watson is hoping his team has turned a corner and can push on to better results, starting with Wednesday's trip to Chicago to face the Fire.

San Jose fell behind 2-0 in the game, and was down 2-1 in the 77th minute when Victor Bernardez was sent off.

But the 'Quakes battled back to claim a dramatic win with stoppage-time goals from Shea Salinas and Alan Gordon.

"I don't think those things are supposed to happen, really," Watson said after Saturday's match. "It's one thing to be down a couple of goals, but to be down a player as well - I mean, it's a very difficult situation. So many things happened, I can't really remember everything. But our guys kept pushing until the end. It was amazing to see, but I'm not surprised, because I know the kind of guys we have in the locker room."

The win gives San Jose two victories from its last three matches after the team claimed just one win from its previous 11 games. And Watson hopes Saturday's match will help to ease some of the difficulty of the season's first few months.

"I know the players are hurting with the start to the season," Watson said. "It's been tough. We've got a lot of proud guys in there. I know they were hurting from that side of it, and I was so happy to see them persevere tonight and get what is a very big win for us."

Chicago is another team that started poorly this season and has been trying to dig itself out of an early-season hole.

With two wins in its first 11 games, Chicago quickly sunk toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but the club has started to move into playoff contention with a five-game unbeaten streak.

The Fire's last game in league play came on June 22 in a 2-1 win at Columbus. However, Chicago's last action came just one week ago as the club advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 5-1 win over Orlando City.

"Advancing in the tournament is absolutely 100 percent important for us," Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. "It was one of our goals coming into the season, to win a trophy. This is the first trophy we can win. We made it a point to play everyone and not rest anyone. I've been to the final a couple of years ago and we want a better result in the final this time, we want to go all the way and the guys are committed to that. There are two games remaining and we're lucky that the next one is at home. But we need to play better though if we're going to go all the way."

Chicago's next Open Cup match will come at home against D.C. United on Aug. 7, but in the meantime, the club must now turn its attention back to another goal, and that is reaching the MLS playoffs.

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