Sometimes, in order to build momentum…to paraphrase a certain Mike Leach, you have to start by rolling the you-know-what out of somebody. For Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy, that was Mark Watson’s San Jose Earthquakes, who came into the contest hoping to seal up another California Clasico series win. That will have to wait until Oct. 20 at Buck Shaw Stadium, on the campus of Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif.
Unlike their last meeting at Stanford Stadium, the Los Angeles Galaxy won the last 15 minutes and shut out San Jose, 3-0, at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The victory moves the Galaxy to 13-9-4 (43 points), puts pressure on Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference, and gives LA the second-best record in the league.
“I think our team played well tonight,” Arena told the press after the match. “San Jose played real hard in the first half, came out hard. The first goal was very important. I think they threw a lot into the game in the first half. You can see in the second half they lost their legs a little bit.
“Our team played well. It was a game winner. As the game went on, our passing improved. I thought we scored some good goals. Overall, a good performance. A good team effort.”
Get hype? Right. Here are six things we learned from Saturday’s match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.
1. Robbie Keane delivers on his bobblehead night
This will be highlighted in his dedicated piece later this week, but captain Robbie Keane was clutch. Keane started things off by showing his penalty-taking expertise in the 43rd minute of play. Then, in the 67th minute, rookie midfielder Gyasi Zardes and defender Sean Franklin teamed up on a sequence that allowed Keane to secure his brace. Keane now has 12 goals this season to lead Los Angeles.
2. Landon Donovan’s chase towards history…continues
Donovan 1, Gonzalez 1…Dempsey 0. There is a difference.
Landon Donovan, who recently signed to a contract extension that effectively seals his fate as a member of the Galaxy, opened up the scoring in the 26th minute of play thanks to Keane and Marcelo Sarvas. Donovan was left on an island all alone and won the 1-v-1 with Earthquakes netminder Jon Busch.
With the goal, Donovan is now three goals away from passing Jeff Cunningham. When he comes back to the club, he just needs a hat trick in one game, three in as many games, two and one, or one and two. His choice. Barring an unbelievable dry spell, a new record will be set by arguably the best player in American soccer history.
3. Dynamic play from the flankers
Back to Franklin and Zardes for a bit. Franklin was placed as a left midfielder, while Zardes manned the right side. Jordan Stewart, despite impressing me on the live blog for a number of period, was tested early and often by Franklin, while Steven Beitashour was hounded by Zardes’s tenacity and speed. Los Angeles will need more of the same flank play domination if they want to catch the league leaders from Sandy, Utah.
4. Alan Gordon, I am disappoint
One of the bold predictions for this match was that Alan Gordon would find space and score. Well, that didn’t happen after all. All the Long Beach native could muster was two offsides and two fouls committed, and no shots on goal. You talk about doing your homework on a player that had a history of scoring on you, and this is what you mean. Gordon was substituted for Jaime Alas after 76 minutes.
5. Jaime Penedo, clutch as usual
Another reason why the Galaxy won on Saturday: Jaime Penedo. Bruce Arena may have to take a gamble on Brian Rowe next week against Colorado, but Penedo’s leadership and presence paid off against the Quakes. Oh yes, and he made a few key stops in the second half. As advertised. You know how it is.
6. Oh My: Los Angeles win match statistics battle
In the words of George Takei, “Oh My.” The match statistics affirmed that this was a one-sided beatdown. The Galaxy had more attempts on goal, more shots on target, better passing accuracy and possession and more total passes. The only departments where San Jose were superior at where corner kicks and open play crosses, most of which were poor and cleared, as well as duels won.
|LA Galaxy||San Jose Earthquakes|
|11||Attempts on Goal||8|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|5||Shots off Target||6|
|9||Open Play Crosses||15|
|0||First Yellow Cards||0|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|49%||Duels Won %||50%|
|84%||Passing Accuracy %||81%|