Benji Kikanovic scores twice as Quakes defeat Fire

ByReuters via ESPN logo
Monday, July 4, 2022

Benji Kikanovic delivered two second-half goals as the San Jose Earthquakes ended their scoring drought while earning a 2-1 victory Sunday over the visiting Chicago Fire.

The Earthquakes (4-7-6, 18 points) scored for the first time since May 28, waiting out the international break in early June and then going without a score in games against Nashville SC and Real Salt Lake.

Earthquakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski made five saves, while Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina made six saves.

The Fire (4-9-5, 17 points) finally scored in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time but are tied for the fewest goals in MLS with 16.

After a scoreless but energetic first half, the Earthquakes went to work early after the break. They peppered Slonina with rapid-fire shots in the 47th minute until Kikanovic scored. Jamiro Monteiro started the flurry when his shot was saved on a dive by the 18-year-old Slonina.

San Jose's Marcos Lopez followed by hitting the crossbar before teammate Cristian Espinoza hit the left post. Kikanovic found the ball in front of a wide-open net, and the San Jose native tapped in his first of the season.

With the Fire pressing forward late in the game, the Earthquakes went on a counter attack, with Kikanovic scoring from the right side of the penalty area in the 87th minute. He nearly scored a third when he hit the post in the second minute of stoppage time.

The Fire finally scored just before the final whistle when Brian Gutierrez got in front of the Earthquakes defense, took a pass on the run from Jhon Duran and then scored past Marcinkowski.

The Fire failed to follow up on a 1-0 victory Wednesday over the Philadelphia Union, who were atop the Eastern Conference at the time. Chicago fell to 1-7-2 on the road.

San Jose came out on top for the first time since a 3-2 victory over the Portland Timbers on May 18.

The Earthquakes were playing their first game since June 18 after a contest against the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 25 was postponed because of power-grid issues.

--Field Level Media