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Rivalry drama: LA Galaxy 3, San Jose Earthquakes 2

Earthquakes drop two leads to lose California Clasico.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes held two leads in their California Clasico match Saturday against the LA Galaxy, but they couldn’t hold on and ultimately dropped the result 3-2 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The Galaxy’s two goals in the second half with San Jose ahead 2-1 are sure to be controversial in the eyes of Quakes fans, with a handball penalty called against the visitors followed by a goal that may have itself been handled by the Galaxy flipping the result to a Quakes loss in the end.

Matias Almeyda had two unpredictable starters on the night, with teenager Cade Cowell slotting in with Magnus Eriksson out of the squad for good, Cowell’s first career start in MLS, and central defender Tanner Beason making his MLS debut from the start, in place of Guram Kashia. In addition, Florian Jungwirth got the start in defense in place of Oswaldo Alanís.

The game got off to a great start for San Jose, as Vako scored the opening goal in the 11th minute off a throw-in, something you don’t see that often.

The Quakes held onto the lead for a little while, and Beason saved a goal around the half-hour mark, chesting down a shot from Cristian Pavon on the line.

But he took his rookie lumps moments later, as the Galaxy tied the game through Daniel Steres off a free kick, Beason looking like he missed the marking assignment on the play.

The teams went into the halftime break tied 1-1.

The opening 15 minutes of the second half were a little sleepy, with neither team taking an edge, but with LA getting a big chance moments earlier that the Quakes weathered, San Jose took another lead in the 59th minute. Cowell had a terrific dribble inside along the top of LA’s box, and then unleashed a rocket from the corner that David Bingham had no answer for in goal.

The goal was Cowell’s first in MLS.

But once again, San Jose couldn’t hold onto the lead, as Beason was judged to have handled the ball in the box, and Cristian Pavon tied up the game with a penalty in the 72nd minute.

The Galaxy got the 3-2 lead in the 82nd minute, as a corner kick led to the ball going over the line eventually. Sebastian Lletget was credited with the goal, although it appeared it went off a Quakes player last on the way in.

I think if the game would have ended in a draw, it would have been a fair result. Pavon was fantastic, even though he only scored a penalty, and Lletget had a good game, but these teams were really evenly matched throughout. But the Quakes will have to take the L and move on. Considering this was their first game in about a month, they looked quite good, all things considered, and while Beason had an uneven game in his MLS debut, Cowell was fantastic and the Quakes really could have won this one.

San Jose will next take on LAFC Wednesday in Los Angeles. It’s the first meeting of the year between the teams, with LAFC firmly having the Quakes’ number in the past, but hey, we’ll see what happens this time around. Should be a good one.

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