It was easiest the biggest win in the history of the NEW San Jose Earthquakes.
When Ryan Cochrane scored the last-minute winner to give San Jose a 3-2 triumph against hated rivals Los Angeles Galaxy, the team celebrated like it was releasing weeks and months of frustration, which is what it did. Yes, it is still a steep climb to the playoffs, but the revamped Earthquakes generated some hope on Sunday.
It was a far different look on the Galaxy sidelines. Going two months without a win will crush any team’s spirits, but through in the sideshow associated with rumors about president Alexi Lalas and head coach Ruud Gullit being in jeopardy of losing their jobs and you have a club on the verge of a meltdown.
SBI correspondents Kevin Matthiessen and Nathan Henderson-James took in the action and gave us their takes on
A magical day in San Jose
By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN
After the Earthquakes broke out to a 2-0 lead in the first half of the game vs. the Galaxy, I thought, "Wow. Here’s the game I’ve been waiting years for. I thought for sure by the end of the match the score would be four or five nil. I’m thinking jail break! Riot! Mass hysteria! Earthquake!"
Then suddenly I’m awaken from my trance while Landon Donovan fires a header to get one back almost immediately. Then next thing I know Ryan Cochrane’s falling over his own man while (front) toothless Quake-killer, Edson Buddle dribbles by and produces a clinical left-footed finish past the hands of an outstretched Joe Cannon.
"Here we go again", I thought. While I know, and always knew, that this is a good team (minus Kamara), there’s been that expansion team cloud that somehow always managed to jinx them and rain on our afternoon or evening or mid-to-late afternoon, or early-to-mid twilight parade.
But not today.
Ryan Cochrane stuck around the box just long enough after a corner kick to smack a left-footed blast into the back of the net for the late game-winner. And though I was extremely worried for the last few minutes after that, especially when David Beckham had the ball on the deep wing, the ‘Quakes held on for a hard-fought victory.
That victory against arch-rivals LA Galaxy sure felt good. It sure has been a long time coming.
So here we are at 18 points. Though five games below .500, the Earthquakes are indeed still in the playoff hunt. Let’s put this into perspective. We all know that the Galaxy stunk up the league most of last season but put it all together and almost made the playoffs with a strong late season run. So, as painful as it was, I just looked up the historical results for the Galaxy of 2007 after 19 games. They only had 14 points with a 3-11-5 record. The Earthquakes are 4-9-6.
Another hopeful perspective is to look at the amount of wins other teams have. First place Salt Lake has only three more wins with seven and second place through sixth only have two more.
The Earthquakes are playing seven of their remaining eleven games at home. No more quasi-pseudo home games at the Oakland Coliseum either! Have I mentioned that place sucks?
So, let’s say out of those last eleven, the Earthquakes go on an epic run of 7-2-2. That would bring them to 41 points with an 11-11-8 record. I was going to end it there but think of it, with a late surge like that carrying into the playoffs there would be a good chance to make it all the way to MLS Cup.
Now excuse me, I need to hit the snooze button. This is a good dream.
Galaxy season turning into a real clunker
By NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES
You know that feeling you get when you are looking for your car, and it’s a new car, the new high-mileage model you got to replace your gas guzzler when you realized this $4 gas thing wasn’t just going to blow over – with sport detailing and a sunroof and GPS and everything – and you are looking for it and looking for it but you just can’t find it anywhere? And it slowly dawns on you that, oh yes, your car is gone, very very gone, stripped at a chop shop in Carson and on its way to serve as replacement parts in India, Brazil, or China via a shipping container being loaded as we speak onto a freighter in Long Beach Harbor? You know that feeling? That’s how Galaxy fans feel when we see Alan Gordon in the starting line up after the All-Star game. Before then, it’s because the team is "tinkering" after then it’s because we simply have no other choice. (And there goes that "no-more-meanness" intention right there, deader than the grass in my lawn.)
I pick on Gordon a lot in these columns and I should remind myself that one of us is getting paid to play futbol on a team with David Beckham and Landon Donovan and the other one is paying a portion of the other’s salary, via season tickets. But I am paying awfully good money to see some awfully frustrating futbol.
Like Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes. Darren Huckerby flies down the left side in the seventh minute, crosses into the box, and wham, bam, blam, three touches later Arturo Alvarez is celebrating his first goal as a 2008 edition Earthquake. That game, oh my two faithful readers, was pretty much the entire Galaxy season boiled down to 90 minutes. Start slow, fight back, play with grit, heart, and determination, but, due to not quite enough skill across the roster to support the superstars, just miss what could have been a positive result. Sunday’s 90th minute winner by Ryan Cochrane was a spirit-crusher, but, oddly, it felt like a kind of "of course" as in "of course we’d get beat on a late-game winner". Maybe I need to go back into therapy for Galaxy Battered Fan Syndrome.
I did like a few things in the game. First, no more stranding Donovan on the wings. Second, more Becks involvement over the entirety of the game, even if he wasn’t sharp on his crosses for most of the day (he had one when it counted). Third, some good stretches of possession in the midfield. Fourth, Edson Buddle’s goal in which he beat practically the entire San Jose back-line off the dribble.
The Galaxy hasn’t won a game since the last time they were in San Jo-, er, Oakland, back when the calendar said it was still Spring and I was coping with the first week of my wife’s seven weeks on an archaeological dig in Syria (she’s back now safe and sound, thanks for asking). After watching the team garner 3 points out of a possible 21 since then I’m not convinced we’ll get more than that by the end of the season.
When you look at what San Jose (gaining Scott Sealy, Darren Huckerby, Francisco Lima, and Arturo Alvarez), FC Dallas (hiring a new coach, developing Eric Avila, gaining Bruno Guarda, keeping Kenny Cooper), Toronto FC (getting Chad Barrett), and Chicago Fire (getting Brian McBride) are doing to prepare for the playoff run, and then you look at the Galaxy (Eduardo Dominguez) I feel like not only is my car on its way to being globalized spare parts but that the cops think I did it and the insurance company can’t find any record of my policy.
There are 11 games left and I don’t think there is anyone waiting in the wings to save the G’s. Either they learn how to play tight futbol as a team or they crash and burn.
And if they go down in flames I won’t be sad if they take Alexi Lalas with them.