Clean Sheet, Clear Win in San Jose: SJ vs LA

After being knocked out of the US Open Cup on Tuesday, LA needed a strong showing against the San Jose Earthquakes to kick off their summer campaign. To the Galaxy’s credit, they delivered: aided by a clever combination that built to a great finish from Gyasi Zardes, LA came away with a well-earned road win.

“We talked over the last three days about concentrating for 90 minutes. We’ve played well through a lot of stretches in a lot of games, but we’ve let our concentration go.”
—Landon Donovan

Forget the last three days: the Galaxy have struggled with closing out games all season. By that measure – and it’s an important one – Saturday’s win was reassuring. LA looked sharp throughout the night, and was especially good about responding to San Jose’s counter attacks. That’s not to say there weren’t nervy moments (and yes, those moments increased toward the end of the game) but keeper Jaime Penedo was rarely tested.

A big part of that consistency rested on a few key players. Marcelo Sarvas, for starters, look comfortable as a roving left winger. His accuracy and movement helped LA maintain calm possession in the middle third. And two other standouts provided a sneak-peek at the direction the Galaxy’s play style is evolving: the two outside backs, Robbie Rogers and Dan Gargan, who pressed their way up the sidelines and into the attack, providing plenty of service to LA’s strikers. The quality of the crosses varied, for sure, but at least the Galaxy are finding a groove.

It takes more than rhythm to win a game, though, and LA’s lone goal was a spectacular one. Robbie Keane lofted the ball forward into the box, where Marcelo Sarvas received it on the end of a great run and laid it back to Gyasi Zardes. For all the flack he gets about his finishing, Zardes made the most of the moment — his rocket to the top right netting was unsaveable, I don’t care who you have in goal.

“If Barcelona scored a goal like that, people would be talking about it for weeks. It was a good sequence: it was a great ball by Robbie, great run by Marcelo and Gyasi peeled off with a great run and a finish.”
—Landon Donovan

The Galaxy had one more good chance when Stefan Ishizaki took a shot from near the top of the 18 that bounced off the far post. Had it gone in, he could’ve made up for a mistake in the first half, when he chose to pass instead of taking a close-range shot on goal. And if there’s any complaint to be had with LA’s offense, it’s exactly that: they didn’t look hungry. The Galaxy will take whatever wins they can get at this point, but there’s no reason that their narrow lead couldn’t have been bigger.

In the final minutes San Jose nearly made LA pay for all those missed chances. But the Galaxy’s back line held strong  – Tommy Meyer in particular had a great showing – and maintained the shut out.

With any luck LA can hang on to their momentum this time around. They’ll be tested again Friday, July 4th, when they square-off against the struggling Portland Timbers at home.