The Chicago Fire once experienced firsthand the late-game heroics the San Jose Earthquakes displayed in their last contest, though they seem far from intimidated given their recent surge.
Chicago looks to extend its unbeaten streak across all competitions to nine Wednesday night as it hosts San Jose, which is winless in eight of its nine MLS road matches.
The Fire (5-7-3) have been on a tear of late, going 3-0-2 in their last five league games while also winning three in U.S. Open Cup competition since May 29. They beat Columbus 2-1 on June 22 in their last MLS match, then defeated Orlando City 5-1 last Wednesday in an Open Cup quarterfinal as Chris Rolfe scored twice.
Mike Magee also netted a goal and has scored in each of the last seven overall matches.
Rolfe scored in the 37th minute in the last meeting with the Earthquakes on July 28, but Steven Lenhart scored in the eighth minute of stoppage time to salvage a tie. With Lenhart exiting early due to injury Saturday, San Jose (5-7-6) pulled off another late stunner to beat Los Angeles 3-2.
Shea Salinas scored the tying goal in the 92nd minute before Alan Gordon, who entered for Lenhart in the second half, netted his second goal of the game a minute later.
"This is a team you can't sleep on," Rolfe said. "They're always trying to fight back. We're going to have to worry about the start to our game and the end to our game, and that's something hopefully we can handle (Wednesday)."
Gordon believes Saturday's thriller could give a jolt to a San Jose team that hasn't been living up to expectations. The Earthquakes are 0-3-1 after wins this season.
"That's something that will usually do it," Gordon said. "Hopefully we can put together two good performances (against Chicago and New England on Saturday) to follow it up."
Interim coach Mark Watson also is hoping Gordon builds on his success to contribute more as a goal scorer, especially with perennial All-Star forward Chris Wondolowski and winger Marvin Chaves departing for international duty beginning with Wednesday's contest.
"Any goal scorer goes through spells (of not scoring)," Watson said of Gordon. "He's injured, but he's playing through it. That guy is a true character and true battler. I knew that ... he was eventually going to get it. He got some great service, but those two goals were fantastic."
San Jose, though, is just 1-6-2 in its MLS road matches, getting outscored 16-5 while being shut out six times. It is winless in 13 of the 16 league road meetings with Chicago, which also will be short-handed due to international obligations.
Keeper Sean Johnson will join Wondolowski with the U.S. squad as it prepares for Gold Cup play, leaving Paolo Tornaghi to start in net. Though Tornaghi wasn't very good in his only MLS start this season - a 4-1 loss to Chivas USA on March 24 - he isn't backing down from the challenge of replacing Johnson.
"Now it's my moment," Tornaghi said. "I'm excited, I'm ready."
San Jose also will be without defender Victor Bernardez, who received a red card Saturday.