The San Jose Earthquakes are rolling.
After an impressive 2-0 away victory against juggernauts Seattle last week, the Quakes ran rampant over reigning champs LA Galaxy in a 3-1 victory in front of a sell-out crowd of 50,422 at Stanford Stadium.
Chris Wondolowski said beating title contenders in consecutive games gives the team confidence, but that they expect nothing less:
“We wanna be title contenders. That’s our philosophy. … We obviously have a lot of work that we have to do to get there, but we wanna be there as well.”
The Galaxy struck first on a rocket from Juninho in the 17th minute but allowed Wondolowski to notch an equalizer shortly after and never regained control of the game.
The Earthquakes dominated the second half, and added to their lead on goals from Clarence Goodson in the 53rd minute and Cordell Cato in the 72nd to give San Jose their first winning streak of the season.
With the victory the Earthquakes jumped into the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and trail the Galaxy by only three points with four games in hand. Most impressively San Jose held Los Angeles to a single goal after the reigning champs scored five in their last two matches.
Head coach Dom Kinnear told his defense before the game:
“Keep an eye on Robbie Keane. The guy’s a clever player, he finds good gaps. I thought Fatai (Alashe) did a god job of kind of sitting in front and shielding the back four. But I’ll give credit to Clarence (Goodson) and Victor (Bernardez). I think the last two games they’ve been very, very good for us.”
With each club coming off arguably their most impressive victories of the season, only one change was made to the starting XIs, with the Galaxy center back Leonardo rotating in for A.J. DeLaGarza.
Interestingly, DeLaGarza would come on as halftime sub, replacing Omer Gonzalez who fell ill in the first half which may have lead to some of Los Angeles’ questionable play at the back.
The Earthquakes nearly scored in the second minute on a point blank Chris Wondolowski chance that Galaxy goalkeeper Jamie Penedo showed impressive reflexes to deflect away.
The Galaxy made the Earthquakes pay for the missed opportunity in the 17th minute when Juninho hit a first time rocket from 25 yards out that found its way inside the near post, past a late reacting David Bingham. The goal was the Brazilian’s third in as many games and fourth of 2015.
The Earthquakes answered quickly in the 28th minute, when Wondolowski made up for his missed chance by scoring on an exquisite volley that will be hard to top for goal of the week.
Wondolowski started the buildup by pinging a ball out to the right flank for Matias Perez Garcia, who needed only one touch to leave LA left-back Robbie Rodgers in the dust. Garcia’s cross found Wondo in the middle of the Galaxy box and the Baugh Daigh Warrior hit a first time volley for his ninth goal of the season.
The assist was Garcia’s fourth of the season, and he would notch his fifth just eight minutes into halftime when Clarence Goodson beat Gyasi Zardes for a headed goal on one of MPG’s signature deliveries. The goal was the first of big skinny’s three year career with San Jose.
The Earthquakes twisted the dagger in the 72nd minute, when Shea Salinas beat Dan Gargan down the right flank setting up an easy finish for Cordell Cato to give the Quakes a comfortable 3-1 lead. The goal was Cato’s first of the season and he talked after the game about the statement win:
“It’s a statement from us that we can come up against the best. They’re defending champions and we are going to continue with this mentality and this attitude throughout the rest of the season.”
The Earthquakes head back to Avaya on Wednesday for a re-match with the Galaxy in a U.S. Open Cup match.