San Jose, CA – In the first game of the California Clásico in 2017, the LA Galaxy came from behind to shock the previously undefeated at home, San Jose Earthquakes by a score of 4 to 2. The Galaxy got two goals from Giovani dos Santos, one from João Pedro, and another on an own goal to secure the victory at Avaya Stadium – their first win ever in the building.
The Galaxy have now won three consecutive games – all on the road – and are unbeaten in five games. The last time the Galaxy won three games in a row on the road was in May of 2010. They’ve also recorded their fourth road win of the season. That matches the total amount of road victories achieved in all of 2016.
“I thought we actually started really well,” head coach Curt Onalfo said after the game. “But nothing phases us. We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity early on, and that’s made us a better group and a better team.”
But in this game, it came down to some outstanding performances and partnerships that have developed at an increasingly productive rate.
Giovani dos Santos, who scored from the spot after Bradley Diallo rightfully drew a penalty kick, and finished off the fourth goal to put the game away, was outstanding on the night. He routinely dribbled around and through multiple players and combined well with Romain Alessandrini. He’s now scored five goals in his last four games and has one assist to boot.
“I think that the team is starting to feel more confident. I thnk that the chemistry between everyone is getting better,” Dos Santos explained. “It talks about how hard we’ve been working and how hard we’ve been training.”
Alessandrini, for his part, drew the ire of every Earthquakes supporter in the building. Despite being physically run through the ringer, the Frenchman was instrumental in the Galaxy’s success. His combination and understanding of where to be and how to find other players in this game was instrumental to the Galaxy routinely breaking through the high lines and offensive pressure of the Earthquakes.
Curt Onalfo On Giovani dos Santos’ performance:
“He’s world class. We’ve been really smart in how we’ve trained him since preseason. I think he was a little unfortunate early on not to have some more goals, but he’s really found his form. He and Alessandrini and the rest of the guys are just doing a hell of a job.”
But it was probably particularly satisfying to hear boos every time he touched the ball in the second half – fans apparently taking issues with his many attempts to draw fouls and they then reacted to referee Ricardo Salazar as he routinely dismissed his protests. And while he was limping heavily in the locker room after the game, he seemed to relish the role of the villain and maybe even took a bit of pride in understanding the physical beating he took on the night.
“Tonight the win was incredible for us and [we need to] keep going next week. We have a good game on the road with DC United,” Alessandrini told reporters after the game.
Dos Santos and Alessandrini have combined for goals in four-straight games. And tonight’s fourth goal showed how far they’ve come. A ball that was being shielded out by San Jose for their throw-in was skillfully kept in play by Ashley Cole right on the line. His quick release to Alessandrini who was streaking up the left-hand side was perfect. With Dos Santos opening up space to the far post, Alessandrini ran from the near the midfield line all the way to the left-hand side of the box. His inch-perfect cross found the head of Dos Santos who’s headed finish went right past ‘Quakes keeper David Bingham and into the back of the net.
To add to that, Pedro, who received a ton of criticism for his slow start to the season, scored his first goal in an LA Galaxy kit and had another good game. His confidence seems to be on the rise and he’s turning into a midfielder the Galaxy may be able to count on. Regardless, his play and his smile were welcome findings for a Galaxy team who dropped so many early points at home this season and is now finding some rhythm through the midfield, despite having to slide Rafa Garcia into the central spot because of the injury to Baggio Husidic.
“I’m happy – I’m so happy,” Pedro said of his goal. “It was my first [goal] after a few attempts and some posts and things like that. So I’m very happy and happy for three points.”
And Pedro was even more happy that the win came at the expense of a rival. “We knew that the Clasico is always about fighting and winning our battles. We did that and we win and that’s the most important part of the game.”
Even right back Diallo, who was returning from his suspension in the previous game, had a very good outing. He created offense, played tough defense, and provided some welcomed stability to that position.
But all wasn’t perfect for the Galaxy. Daniel Steres had to exit the game in the game just before halftime with, what the club and Curt Onalfo are calling, a right hamstring injury. Steres went down behind the play after trying to twist and adjust his balance while chasing down a play.
Steres, while walking past reporters, said “he’d have to wait and see” about the severity of the injury.
The Galaxy are now sixth in the Western Conference and have crept above the red playoff line for the very first time in 2017. They’re also fourth in points per game (1.42) in their conference and ninth overall in points per game against the entire league. They sit twelfth overall in the league.
The Galaxy will next travel to Washington DC and DC United. The game in DC will be the final of four road games and could culminate in the Galaxy taking 12 of 12 points – a feat that seemed impossible just weeks ago. They’ll finally return to StubHub Center on June 17th, where they’ll host the Houston Dynamo.
SJ – Chris Wondolowski (Assisted by Danny Hoesen) 10’
LA – João Pedro (Assisted by Ashley Cole) 19’
LA – Giovani dos Santos (penalty) 35’
SJ – Danny Hoesen (Assisted by Tommy Thompson) 37’
LA – Victor Bernardez (Own goal) 44’
LA – Giovani dos Santos (Assisted by Romain Alessandrini) 65’