SAN JOSE . (AP) — Fatai Alashe and Ty Harden scored goals in the first half and the San Jose Earthquakes opened their new stadium with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Sunday night.
Goalie David Bingham made three saves for the Earthquakes (2-1). San Jose has won back-to-back games after going winless in its previous 16.
The setting was perfect, too — a sellout crowd on hand for the official opening of Avaya Stadium, the $100 million gem financed by Earthquakes owners John Fisher and Lew Wolff.
Harrison Shipp scored the lone goal for Chicago (0-3). The Fire had been shut out in their first two games and trailed the entire game.
“The atmosphere was fantastic,” San Jose coach Dominic Kinnear said. “We got good early goals to get the (crowd) excited and keep them nice and vocal. I’m glad we won the game, that makes it even better. That makes everything look a little bit better.”
The Earthquakes celebrated the opening of their new 18,000-seat stadium by jumping out to a 2-0 lead as fans clad in blue and black roared in approval.
Alashe — who is headed for training camp with the under-23 U.S. men’s national team — re-directed a header by Clarence Goodson past Chicago goalie Sean Johnson to put San Jose up 1-0 in the fifth minute.
Johnson later made a kick save to stop Matias Perez Garcia’s shot, but the ball ricocheted to Harden, who fought past one Fire defender in front of the net and scored.
“Obviously, there was a lot going on and it’s easy to get distracted,” Alashe said. “But none of us played into that whole thing. We just focused on the game and got the result that we needed.”
Chicago, which was shut out in its first two games, ended its scoring drought on Shipp’s goal in the 29th minute. A finalist for rookie of the year in 2014, Shipp took a late pass from Joevin Jones and fired a shot into the left corner of the net past a diving Bingham to make it 2-1.
The Fire missed a chance to tie it two minutes later when Bingham stopped a short header attempt by Eric Gehrig.
Bingham also got some help late in the second half when Goodson slid in front of a shot attempt by Gehrig and knocked the ball away.
“It was kind of nice to be the first (visiting) team here,” said Chicago coach Frank Yallop, who also spent two stints as coach of the Earthquakes. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win. But it’s a nice stadium.”
The newest crown jewel of the MLS, Avaya Stadium is the Earthquakes’ permanent home after the team played at various venues throughout the Bay Area.
Sitting across the street from Minetta Airport — planes landed less than a quarter-mile east of the field — the horseshoe-shaped stadium is a major upgrade from the team’s previous home at Buck Shaw Stadium. The new facility even has its own seismograph, which was installed by the U.S. Geological Survey.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber attended the game and watched from one of the field-level bunkers — seats located about 15 feet from the field, giving fans a unique viewpoint.
“We’re very pleased with what they did here,” Garber said. “Clearly, it’s a terrific environment and the fans are excited about it. The league is excited about it.”
San Jose did a soft opening of the stadium in the preseason when only 10,000 fans were allowed in. There were no limitations for the official opening, as fans waved blue-and-white flags and filled the grandstands.