Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By MARK EDWARD HORNISH
There would be no last minute heroics from the San Jose Earthquakes in this edition of the California Clasico.
The LA Galaxy withstood a furious extra time onslaught from the Earthquakes to defeat them, 1-0, before an announced crowd of 50,621 at Stanford Stadium on a balmy night on the Stanford University campus. The win gave the Galaxy their first regular season road win at the Earthquakes since 2008.
Gyasi Zardes converted a goal in the 62nd minute when he sprinted to the penalty spot and took a pass from Marcelo Sarvas before roofing the ball past a flailing John Busch for his 4th goal in all competitions this season.
The Earthquakes spent most of the evening in a defensive posture, and on the back foot. The Galaxy put together seventeen shots on the evening, and could have added one more goal in the 72nd minute when Stefan Ishizaki cut in from the right wing and launched a curling long range shot that beat Busch but clanged off the far post to keep the score close.
The Earthquakes finally came out of their shell in the final minutes of the match and treated the home crowd to a ferocious finish.
The hosts came close to rescuing a point when Joe Cronin floated a long dead ball into the box, where a hard charging Steven Lenhart lost his defender and put a strong header on frame, forcing a spectacular leaping save by Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, who managed to tap the ball clear over the cross bar to preserve the clean sheet for the visitors.
For the Galaxy, the win provided relief on a number of levels. It was only their third road win in the last twenty, and after suffering as the Earthquakes stole two wins in the late minutes last season, it made the trip to Northern California less painful than it has been of late.
The Earthquakes, on the other hand, continue to seek the “Goonies” magic that lead them to the Supporters Shield two seasons ago. A two-game win streak in May has now been followed up by two consecutive losses, and the Earthquakes sit on 13 points, leaving them in 8th place in the Western Conference.
The Galaxy have now cobbled together a five-game unbeaten streak, despite not always looking sharp in the early months of the season. Despite the inconsistent start to the season, they climb to sixth place in the Western Conference, just two points out of the playoffs, and retain three – and in some cases, four – games in hand on the rest of the conference.
The LA Galaxy will next host the Portland Timbers next Friday at the Stub Hub Center for their annual traditional Fourth of July Fireworks match. The San Jose Earthquakes will host CD Chivas USA in a midweek match on Wednesday, July 2nd, at Buck Shaw Stadium, in a battle of the basement dwellers.