The San Jose Earthquakes have been riding high of late, unbeaten in three games and finding their groove with a new-look tactical setup. That continued Friday night in what to date is the biggest test the Quakes have faced: away to LA Galaxy. And, you know what, San Jose looked pretty good, especially against an arguably better team. But it is the method by which the Earthquakes earned a 2-2 draw at the StubHub Center that is worth mention.
The previous target-forward dependent Quakes would have been toast against the Galaxy last Friday. The hosts were relentless in the attacking third, and the dependable San Jose defense was up to the challenge. If this game had been played a few months ago, perhaps with Steven Lenhart starting at forward, the match more likely would have ended as a 2-0 or 2-1 loss. Those Quakes, like Friday's Quakes, would have surrendered the possession advantage (nearly 70% to 30%!), but those Quakes would not have had a dynamic offense that could exploit LA on the counterattack.
The debut of designated player signing Matias Perez Garcia, who started in place of the injured Yannick Djalo, gave San Jose the capability to move the ball quickly against the stretched LA defense. The Earthquakes had only three shots -- three shots! -- the entire game, but they all came on the counterattack, and two of them found the back of the net.
So impressive were the two Earthquakes goals, the first by Chris Wondolowski and the second by Perez Garcia, that they were both nominated for MLS Goal of the Week. Djalo, in the 1-0 victory over Seattle the weekend prior, was given a similar honor last week. Three of the ten nominated MLS Goals of the Week in the past two weeks? These new-look Quakes are something to behold.
Check out the vast photo gallery from Center Line Soccer photographer Joe Nuxoll, on the scene at the StubHub Center
Post Game Statistics and Quotes:
San Jose Earthquakes (6-8-6, 24 pts.) 2:2 LA Galaxy (9-4-7, 34 pts.)
August 8, 2014 - StubHub Center
Scoring Summary: SJ - Chris Wondolowski (Shea Salinas) 18; LA - Gyasi Zardes (unassisted) 29; SJ - Matias Perez Garcia (Chris Wondolowski, Atiba Harris) 31; LA - Omar Gonzalez (Stefan Ishizaki) 49.
Misconduct Summary: SJ - Shaun Francis (caution) 51; SJ - Sam Cronin (caution) 79.
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch, Shaun Francis, Jason Hernandez, Victor Bernandez (Ty Harden 70), Jordan Stewart, Shea Salinas (Cordell Cato 89), Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Sam Cronin, Atiba Harris, Matias Perez Garcia (JJ Koval 83), Chris Wondolowski.
Statistics: Shots: 3; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 4; Fouls: 15; Corner Kicks: 0; Offside: 1.
LA Galaxy - Jaime Penedo, Dan Gargan (Chandler Hoffman 89), Omar Gonzalez, AJ DeLaGarza, Robbie Rogers, Stefan Ishikazi (Bradford Jamieson 82), Marcelo Sarvas (Baggio Husidic 80), Juninho, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes.
Statistics: Shots: 24; Shots on Goal: 6; Saves: 1; Fouls: 10; Corner Kicks: 10; Offside: 4.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH MARK WATSON
On the game:
"That was a great point against a very good opponent. LA played a very good game so you have to give them credit, but we showed a great mentality, especially in the second half to see the game out and earn the point. They had some chances, but we were able to get a little touch here or a block there and stay in the game."
On Perez Garcia's debut:
"He scored a very good goal and you can see his quality when he is out there. He can get out of tight spaces well and protect the ball. He is also a very good passer and you can see he is dangerous in the final third. We are looking forward to seeing more each time he gets on the field. Tonight was a great start."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI
On notching assists in three straight games:
"I always try to do whatever I can to help the team win, whether that is scoring goals, trying to set up goals or find the open guy. To be honest, all three of the goals that came from my assists were great finishes. I just made the pass to the open guy and my teammates did most of the work."
On the team's attack:
"That is one of the greatest things about soccer. It's ever evolving and you have to continue to adapt each game. We have a lot of options in the attack right now and we have to work on things and keep playing together and hopefully the results will continue to come.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES MIDFIELDER MATIAS PEREZ GARCIA
On scoring in his MLS debut:
"It was great for my confidence to get a goal in the first game. My teammates have welcomed me very well here and I am happy that I helped the team get a result tonight. We played a very good team, but we did well on the counterattack and were able to get some goals."
On his goal:
"It was an end-to-end play really. The ball came out quickly and we broke well. There was a good ball played into the middle and I didn't have any doubts when it came to me and I just focused and hit it. The goal really gave me a confidence boost and that will help me as we go to the next match."