LA Galaxy come back to Earth, lose to San Jose in the first California Clasico of the 2015 season.
A tired LA Galaxy team suffered a disappointing loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in front of a crowd of 50,422 at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night. Starting their 20th lineup in as many games, the Galaxy simply did not have the energy to control the direction of the contest. This was the third game in a week for LA, and their sixth overall for the month of June. The schedule does not get any easier as the two teams play again on Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup match and then the Galaxy return home to face Toronto FC on July 4. Coach Bruce Arena commented on the crowded schedule, saying, “It wasn’t going to change no matter what. We had to play the game, right?”
The LA Galaxy have had a fairly easy time in their last two league games and in their opening match of the US Open Cup. In their games against the Philadelphia Union and the Portland Timbers, the team started slow but improved their possession and attacking by the middle of the first half. Saturday night actually started somewhat opposite to that with the Galaxy creating some early scoring opportunities after a near miss from Chris Wondolowski in the 2nd minute. Juninho took full advantage in the 17th minute and delivered a scorcher of a blast from 40 yards out to drive the ball past David Bingham. While Wondolowski was able to score the equalizer in the 28th minute off a perfectly timed assist from Matias Perez Garcia, the two teams went into halftime looking fairly level.
San Jose, with much fresher legs, was able to establish control almost immediately during the second half. Clarence Goodson headed in the winning goal in the 53rd minute off Perez Garcia’s corner kick, and Cordell Cato scored the insurance goal in the 72nd minute with an assist from Shea Salinas. LA attempted to energize their attack by bringing on Alan Gordon and Jose Villarreal for Sebastian Lletget and Stefan Ishizaki, but the changes did not create the magic the team needed.
“We were bad in the second half. What can you say? Whatever the reasons are. We got out played. Very poor performance on our part.”
—Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy Head Coach/GM
A busy schedule may be to blame for the LA Galaxy’s lackluster play. For much of the first half of the season two of the biggest problems for the team were creating scoring opportunities and executing effective passing. Tired legs brought both of these problems back Saturday night.
LA had only nine total shots, five on goal, and only six corner kicks on the night. The Galaxy had a difficult time establishing a presence in the final third throughout the night. Many of their passes were just a little short and San Jose was easily able to intercept and shift the flow of the game to the Galaxy’s end. Gyasi Zardes had multiple first touches that were too hard, resulting in turnovers that the Earthquakes used to counterattack. Dan Gargan also had an uncharacteristically tough night as his errors were directly responsible for two of San Jose’s goals.
“If you look at the second half, it was a performance where were lacking a bit of oomph, if you like. There wasn’t much sharpness there but that’s to be expected. You certainly don’t want to make a habit of that though. No excuses — fatigue or no fatigue — they were just the better team.”
—Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy forward
While the loss is disappointing, especially after a string of stellar performances, there were some positives to come out of the game. Juninho continued his hot streak, scoring for the third time in as many games. With Zardes leaving to join the USMNT for the Gold Cup tournament for at least two games in July it will be important for the Brazilian midfielder to be an offensive presence.
Fellow Brazilian Leonardo also had a good game, stepping in to interrupt the San Jose attack on multiple occasions. Playing for the first time since the June 13 game against the Columbus Crew, Leonardo will likely be Bruce Arena’s first choice to fill the shoes of Omar Gonzalez, who will also be taking part in the Gold Cup. Lletget had his scoring streak broken but he continued to be a physical presence on offense and should play a key role through the rest of the second half of the season.
“The team is not all about me. We have a team. We have to go out there and compete as a team. Yes, I’m happy with the goal, but I’m very upset about the result. We’re still conceding second half goals and we’re struggling on the road. We have to get better and play better on the road.”
—Juninho, LA Galaxy midfielder
Galaxy defender Gonzalez was involved in a head-to-head collision with San Jose defender Goodson late in the first half. He stayed in the game immediately after the impact but did leave the field for treatment a few minutes later. He did not return for the second half and was replaced by A.J. Delagarza. LA Galaxy insider Adam Serrano reported on Twitter that he left for the game due to “illness.” Alan Gordon will miss the July 6 match against Toronto FC due to yellow card suspension after a caution in the 88th minute. With Zardes already set to be gone it could give Bradford Jamieson IV, just returned from a concussion suffered at the U-20 World Cup, a chance for first team minutes alongside Robbie Keane.
The LA Galaxy next play on Wednesday, again taking on San Jose in the U.S. Open Cup at Avaya Stadium. LA’s next MLS game is against Toronto FC on July 4 at home in the Stub Hub Center. This game will be televised at 7:30 PM on Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Time Warner Cable Deportes.