STANFORD — One streak was broken and another extended Saturday evening, after the San Jose Earthquakes fell to the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 in front of a max capacity crowd at Stanford Stadium.
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
A Gyasi Zardes belter in the 62nd minute provided the games only goal, in a defensive and relatively even affair that lacked the fireworks we’ve seen between the California rivals in previous years.
The win for Los Angeles extends their unbeaten streak to five games following a rough start to the 2014 campaign that saw them enter Saturday’s game in seventh place in the Western Conference standings.
Conversely, the defeat for San Jose ended an eight-game unbeaten streak at home against the Galaxy. Without the services of striker Chris Wondolowski — still on World Cup duty — Steven Lenhart was tasked with creating chances for San Jose as the lone forward in front of a five man midfield.
Lenhart but did his best but was ultimately unsuccessful filling the void, with a handful of near misses that could have given the Earthquakes a much needed draw.
The Quakes have lacked a finishing touch for most of 2014, with their 14 goals tied for the lowest in the Western Conference. Winger Cordell Cato said the same was true Saturday night:
“We had a lot of possession at different parts of the game and created a lot of chances. It was just one of those nights where we couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net.”
San Jose currently sits in eighth place in the Western Conference, just two points ahead of last place Chivas USA. Despite also being without the hulking presence of Victor Bernardez at the back, the Quakes defended well throughout the match, but were punished on a rare lapse in the 61st minute.
San Jose allowed an unmarked Marcelo Sarvas to get on the end of a pass in the middle of the box. Sarvas rolled the ball to Zardes, who hit a first time blast in the top of Jon Busch’s net for the game’s only goal.
The play was set up on a beautiful over the top ball by Robbie Keane. After being on the end of multiple heartbreaking defeats at the hands of San Jose, the Irish international was grateful to avoid another shocker:
“Usually when we come here something dramatic happens in the last three minutes of the game, so we’re thankful that didn’t happen today…It wasn’t an unbelievable performance, but it was a great team performance.
The Galaxy were just as likely to go up 2-0 as the Quakes were to equalize however, when Stefan Ishizaki hit a near golazo from 20 yards out in the 72nd minute, the ball ricocheting off the far post.
San Jose who came out in a 4-5-1 formation attempting to muck up the possession based build-up employed by LA. Jean-Baptiste Pierezzi was especially effective at this, marking Landon Donovan all game and giving the former U.S. national fits with his aggressive challenges.
Pierezzi was also responsible for the best chance of the first half, putting in a picture perfect cross from the left flank that Lenhart just skied over the crossbar. Clarence Goodson was a late scratch for San Jose, with the center-back suffering a groin strain.
Jason Hernandez filled in partnering with Ty Harden, who had another terrific game leading the Earthquakes with three tackles including a goal saving dive on a Zardes strike in the box.
Harden has been terrific in the absence of Bernardez, and gives coach Mark Watson a good problem to have with three solid center-backs vying for two positions. But as has been the case for much of the season, the problems were in the attacking half.
Even with the return of the exhilarating Yannick Djalo. Djalo who has been hampered by injuries since joining San Jose at the beginning of the season, and left the match in the 73rd minute do to minor pain:
“I had a little bit of pain so I had to come off. Not a bad pain, nothing serious, just a little bit of pain in my leg.”
Djalo showed his spark at times throughout the match, but often leaned too much on his athleticism, trying to outrun defenders without a clear plan.
Should the U.S. make a deep run in Brazil and keep Wondo unavailable (fingers crossed), the Quakes will need Djalo at full fitness – and form – if they hope to sniff the goal on Wednesday against fellow cellar-dwellers Chivas.
The Earthquakes will face Chivas USA on Wednesday, July 2 at Buck Shaw Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. PT.
San Jose Earthquakes defender Jason Hernandez made his 200th appearance in MLS. …The loss ends a streak of two consecutive come from behind victories at Stanford Stadium.