(Palo Alto) The San Jose Earthquakes borrowed a page from last year’s playbook Saturday night, overcoming a two goal deficit and a Victor Bernardez red card by scoring a pair of goals in second half stoppage time to rally past the L.A. Galaxy 3-2.
The “Goonies Never Say Die” attitude that propelled the ‘Quakes to the 2012 Supporters Shield was again on display as Alan Gordon netted his first two goals of this season: a header in the 68th minute to start San Jose’s comeback, and after Shea Salinas tied the match in the 92nd minute, a second header in the 93rd minute to give the Earthquakes a much needed win.
Nine times last season (and once again in the playoffs), San Jose scored in second half stoppage time, but such comebacks have been few and far between so far in 2013. The late, late comeback gave newly appointed head coach Mark Watson a win in his home debut and improved San Jose’s record to 5-7-6. “It’s been a tough season so far, we’ve had a lot of tough times,” Watson said. “Maybe this is exactly what the team needs to get that confidence and give us that belief to push us forward.”
The “California Classico” at Stanford Stadium is the Big Event of the regular season, and a sellout crowd of 50,028 got their money’s worth as the Earthquakes wrote another amazing chapter in the story of their long running rivalry with L.A. With the large, loud crowd on hand, the game had a playoff atmosphere. The first quarter hour was filled with fouls, with both teams barking at referee Armando Villareal.
L.A had most of the chances in the opening half, and took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at half time. The Galaxy opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Landon Donovan lofted a pass to Robbie Keane inside the penalty area, and Keane hit a delicate left footed volley to set up Marcelo Sarvas for a volley of his own from 10 yards out, easily beating Jon Busch inside the right post.
“We did not start the game well,” Watson said. “The Galaxy were the better team, they moved us around.” Besides their goal, L.A. had plenty of other opportunities in the first half, and would have extended their lead if Robbie Rogers had not wasted a pair of wide open shots from inside the penalty area. Meanwhile, San Jose only had two shots that looked threatening, long range efforts from Shea Salinas and Chris Wondolowski.
San Jose came out much stronger in the second half, but were down 2-0 before their comeback would begin. L.A. subbed on Hector Jiminez for Robbie Rogers just after the hour mark, and a minute later the Galaxy midfielder added his name to the score sheet, taking a cross from Keane and pounding home a shot from 10 yards out.
When Jiminez came in to the game, San Jose also made a change, bringing on Alan Gordon to replace Steven Lenhart, and that move proved to be most decisive.
Coming off a career high 13 goals last year, Gordon had not yet scored in 2013, but that was soon to change. In the 68th minute, Gordon outmuscled A.J. DeLaGarza in front of goal and nodded home a Shea Salinas cross to cut L.A’s lead in half.
San Jose’s comeback looked over almost as soon as it started, after Victor Bernardez was shown his second yellow card of the night in 77th minute, forcing San Jose to play a man down the rest of the way.
“Most teams, at that point, would just run the time out and go home, but our guys went after it,” Mark Watson said. “I’m not shocked to see it, because I’ve seen it many times (with this team), and I know the character of the group. But it is still pretty special.”
Despite the man disadvantage, San Jose continued to press forward. Before they could complete their comeback, the ‘Quakes had to withstand several counter attacks by the Galaxy, who missed many chances to put the game away. Some of L.A.'s opportunities were wasted in favor of trying to kill the clock, but others seriously tested the San Jose goalkeeper. A Marcelo Sarvas 30 yarder had Jon Busch diving to make a save. At the end of regulation time, Robbie Keane teed up a wide open shot for Hector Jiminez from 8 yards out, and again the San Jose goal keeper was up to the task.
“Jon Busch kept us in the game,” Watson said. ”When you’re down a player and down a goal at home, you have to chase the game, and it’s very difficult thing to do. We knew doing that we would leave ourselves exposed at the back. They had a bunch of chances and Jon Busch played fantastic and allowed us to have a chance to win the game in the end.”
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on the end of the game, and that was enough for the 'Quakes/Goonies to turn things around. In the 92nd minute, a long throw in pin-balled off a couple LA defenders before hitting Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini in the chest. Shea Salinas was quickest to the loose ball, and slammed home the tying goal. Then, just seconds before the final whistle, San Cronin chipped a diagonal ball to Alan Gordon at the far post, and Gordon’s powerful header gave San Jose a hard fought win, and a lift they hope to ride back into the playoff picture.
San Jose has a tough road ahead of them. The 'Quakes remain in 8th place in the conference, and in the race for the last playoff spot L.A. still has a three point lead and a game in hand. And, four Earthquakes (including Wondolowski and newly signed National Team defender Clarance Goodson) will be away on Gold Cup duty starting next week as the team travels to Chicago for a game Wednesday before continuing on to play New England next Saturday. On this night, however, the Earthquakes locker room was full of believers.
“The players are pretty emotional right now,” Watson said. “To have the start of the season that we’ve had, they’re hurting. I think to be a part of what just happened will do really big things for this team. (The win) gives us a lot of confidence, and makes us believe we have a good team, and we have a good chance to make a run at the end of the season and make the playoffs.”
San Jose Earthquakes (5-7-6, 21 pts.) 3:2 LA Galaxy (7-7-3, 24 pts.)
June 29, 2013 – Stanford Stadium
Scoring Summary: LA – Marcelo Sarvas (Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan) 20; LA – Hector Jimenez (Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan) 66; SJ – Alan Gordon (Shea Salinas) 68; SJ – Shea Salinas (unassisted) 90+2; SJ – Alan Gordon (Sam Cronin) 90+3.
Misconduct Summary: SJ – Victor Bernardez (caution) 69; SJ – Victor Bernardez (ejection) 77; LA – Marcelo Sarvas 79; SJ – Alan Gordon (caution) 90+4.
San Jose Earthquakes – Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Marvin Chavez, Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca (Adam Jahn 80), Shea Salinas, Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart (Alan Gordon 64). Substitutes Not Used: David Bingham, Ramiro Corrales, Dan Gargan, Mehdi Ballouchy, Walter Martinez.
Statistics — Total Shots: 12; Shots on Goal: 6; Saves: 8; Fouls: 12; Offside: 9; Corner Kicks: 7.
LA Galaxy – Carlo Cudicini, Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, Robbie Rogers (Hector Jimenez 64), Juninho (Pablo Mastroeni 79), Marcelo Sarvas, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes (Jack McBean 86). Substitutes Not Used: Brian Perk, Colin Clark, Tommy Meyer, Michael Stephens.
Statistics — Total Shots: 18; Shots on Goal: 10; Saves: 3; Fouls: 12; Offside: 0; Corner Kicks: 3.