Photo Courtesy of LA Galaxy

Chicharito nets two as Galaxy shake down ‘Quakes

The LA Galaxy got two goals from Chicharito, show a lot of growth, and add a San Jose own goal to skate by the Earthquakes to end their two-game road trip.

The LA Galaxy are getting better. And that was on full display Saturday night when they comfortably handled the San Jose Earthquakes for their second straight win — both coming on the road – and the end to their first three-game week.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored on either side of the halftime whistle — moving him into solo first place in the MLS Golden Boot race with ten goals on the season — and the Galaxy added an own goal to pull away from the Earthquakes by a final score of 3-1 at a full capacity crowd in San Jose.

It was a confident strut by the Galaxy — a team that had held on to beat Vancouver at altitude in Sandy, Utah on Wednesday night and then walked into Paypal Park swinging with precision and imaginative play just three nights later.

Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney moved Sacha Kljestan and Victor Vazquez to the bench for the start of the game while replacing them with Jonathan dos Santos and Efrain Alvarez. The rest of the team remained unchanged. But Vanney would eventually use all five of his substitutions before the 75th minute had ticked away to keep fresh legs on the field throughout the match.

Chicharito opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a clinical finish that he helped start. Defender Nick DePuy passed into Sebastian Lletget, who checked back for the ball. Lletget’s inside pass found Chicharito moving away from goal, and from about 40 yards out, received the ball and sprayed it out wide to Samuel Grandsir. Grandsir drove to the endline and then crossed the ball to the late run from Chicharito for a superb finish past goalkeeper James Marcinkowski for the opener.

The Galaxy would hold that lead through the first half while San Jose slowly started to build some confidence going into the final 45 minutes. But Chicharito’s second goal would alter that swing.

Much like the first goal, Chicharito started the fast-break with a pass out to a sprinting Kevin Cabral. Cabral would aim for the top corner of the 18-yard box before crossing a low, near-post ball to Chicharito, who one-timed it into the net in the 50th minute.

“For sure, for sure. I think that’s a clear example of what I was talking about starting from me,” Chicharito said of the emotional growth the Galaxy have been trying to make. “You know, because I scored a quite early goal in the first half and then in the second half again. And then we maintained the possession.

“But I think yeah, I think that emotional consistency and emotional balance we show it today. You know that we can have possession. We even killed some time with good possession.

“We created more chances that we couldn’t score,” he continued. “Of course, we need to be a little bit more ruthless in front of the goal – we know all of that. But yeah, I think it was a very, very well balanced emotional game, of course.”

Cabral and Grandsir added their first assists in the league while Hernandez vaulted to the top of the goalscoring leader board. And both Cabral and Grandsir showed some real determination to make sure the Galaxy stayed ahead.

Grandsir even pushed back a trip to visit his newborn baby in France so that he could stay and play in this match against San Jose.

“He was gonna leave after the last game, but he wanted to stay and compete for the team this weekend,” Vanney said.

Substitute Cameron Dunbar would create the third goal in the 70th minute and put the game out of reach. He crossed a ball into dangerous space in front of goal where Earthquakes defender Florian Jungwirth deposited it into the back of his own net — the second San Jose own goal to be scored in 2021 when playing against the Galaxy.

The Earthquakes would get one back when Cade Cowell netted a consolation goal in the 82nd minute. And while that destroyed the Galaxy’s shutout, it did little to dampen their excitement over the performance.

“I thought the third goal was important,” Vanney explained after the game. “And it kind of came against the run of it a little bit. They had a couple of chances. They hit the post — some things we had to deal with right in front of our goal.

“And then, against the run of play, we got the third goal, which was huge. I think that took a lot of pressure off the final stretch.”

The Galaxy won in San Jose for the first time since a 4-2 victory over the ‘Quakes on May 27, 2017 — that game was also at PayPal Park (then Avaya Stadium), which is unusual because these teams usually play at the much larger Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. This win also means the Galaxy have won back-to-back Cali-Clasico’s for the first time since 2008.

The three points keeps the Galaxy in third place in the Western Conference with 21 points from 10 games and keeps them just two points from second place Sporting KC. And with Sporting making the road trip to Los Angeles on July 4, the Galaxy will have a chance to leapfrog them and take sole possession of second place with multiple games in hand.