This game was about three things. Firstly, it was the San Jose Earthquakes’ opening game at the brand new Avaya stadium. Secondly, it was a chance to see how far, with all the roster changes, Dominic Kinnear had progressed building the new team. That last year’s MLS Cup-winning LA Galaxy had a disciplined team was not a matter for conjecture. But third and foremost, this was a game between the San Jose Earthquakes and theLos Angeles Galaxy, and these games are always deadly serious affairs, be they preseason, regular season, or MLS Cup playoffs games.
LA brought a strong team, featuring Robbie Keane and former Quake Alan Gordon up front, midfielder Juninho, and defenders Robbie Rogers and Omar Gonzalez. It seemed likely they were intent on raining on San Jose’s firework.
The Earthquakes starting eleven bore little resemblance to last year’s team. Even familiar face Shea Salinas had been moved up front as a striker alongside Chris Wondolowski. New players Marvell Wynne, Paulo Renato, and Sanna Nyassi looked to add coherence from the defense through midfield to the offense.
The first five minutes saw the Quakes hold a disciplined shape, pressing high up the field and challenging well for the ball but LA showed a patient game based on solid passing. New Quakes signing Sanna Nyassi showed great pace moving easily up and down the San Jose left flank.
In the 18th minute Garcia sent a good ball, a presage of things to come, high into the area that LA goalkeeper Brian Rowe did well to pluck out of the air. Sanna Nyassi and Marvell Wynne were both delivering useful ground balls into the area but the connection with Quakes strikers was a ways off happening.
In the 23rd minute Koval got on the end of a Garcia free kick but steered it wide. A half hour in there seemed to be an element of caution from players on both teams; it seemed no one wanted to risk injury in the last preseason game.
A lot of the midfield play increasingly resembled soccer tennis played by performing seals. When the Galaxy did keep the ball on the ground their passing was as disciplined as you would expect from the MLS Cup champions.
In the 42nd minute the first ever goal at Avaya stadium ricocheted in off Omar Gonzalez, an own goal. Two minutes later, after getting on the end of a Salinas cross, Wondo came close to making it two, forcing Rowe to tip his header over the bar. The goal perked up the Quakes but the half finished 1-0 to San Jose.
With storm clouds massing over the San Jose hills the Quakes started the second half with Fatai Alashe taking the place of J-B Pierrazi. Alashe immediately showed himself as a physical presence, using his low center of gravity and muscular upper body to good effect.
In the 52nd minute LA's Bradford Jamieson IV forced a fine save from Bingham to deny an upper left hand corner-bound goal. A minute later Alashe’s physicality earned him a yellow card.
In the 58th minute a great ball into the area from Garcia was knocked down by Wondolowski to Koval who struck a powerful shot up the middle into the roof of the net to make it 2-0 to San Jose. The fans turned up the volume to eleven as the Quakes began to send a series of searching high balls into the Galaxy area.
The Galaxy subbbed Jose Villareal on for Bradford Jamieson, and the Quakes brought Adam Jahn on for JJ Koval. Three minutes later Villareal got on the end of a Robbie Roberts cross and steered the ball past Bingham to make it 2-1.
Two minutes later a newly muscular-looking Adam Jahn powered his way up in a crowded box and headed home from a Garcia corner. San Jose Earthquakes 3 Los Angeles Galaxy 1.
With a two goal lead and 18 minutes to go Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear decided to protect a couple of players, and take a look at some options, bringing on Leandro Barrera on for Shea Salinas, Tommy Thompson for Chris Wondolowski and Ty Hardin for Paulo Renato.
On 82 minutes Robbie Keane got behind the San Jose defense and hit a fine drive to the far corner to make it 3-2. With three minutes to go it started to rain, then hale, then the game was over and San Jose had won 3-2.
After the game when asked how he thought his team had held their shape against a disciplined LA side, Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said:
"I thought we were a little bit frazzled at the begining of the game, the guys got caught up in the moment a little bit. Our possession was a little bit off, we were rushing our passes. But it's a great way to end the preseason, playing a good opponent. I thought a couple of our guys got real nervous and excited about the situation and you can understand that. But I thought the competitive nature of the group was really good throughout the whole 90 minutes."
San Jose Earthquakes 3 -- LA Galaxy 2
February 28, 2015 - Avaya Stadium
Scoring Summary: SJ -- Own goal (Omar Gonzalez) 42, JJ Koval (Chris Wondolowski) 58, Adam Jahn (Matias Perez Garcia) 67; LA -- Jose Villareal (Robbie Rogers) 65, Robbie Keane (Stefan Ishizaki) 82.
Misconduct Summary: SJ -- Fatai Alashe (caution) 53; LA -- None.
San Jose Earthquakes: David Bingham, Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, Paulo Renato (Ty Harden 73), Shaun Francis, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi (Fatai Alashe 46), JJ Koval (Adam Jahn 64), Matias Perez Garcia (Khari Stephenson 81), Sanna Nyassi (Cordell Cato 76), Chris Wondolowski (Tommy Thompson 72), Shea Salinas (Leandro Barrera 71).
LA Galaxy: Brian Rowe, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Rogers (Andre Auras 83), Leonardo (Todd Dunivant 46), Dan Gargan, Juninho, Stefan Ishizaki, Ken Walker (Rafael Garcia 71), Bradford Jamieson (Jose Villareal 63), Robbie Keane, Alan Gordon.