By EVAN REAM
It was the result that neither team needed, but the one they deserved, as the San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy played to a 1-1 draw in the latest edition of the California Classico Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 10,525 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.
With the draw, the Earthquakes (6-11-10, 28 points) failed to get the three points they needed to get back into the playoff hunt while the Galaxy (14-5-9, 51 points) fell even further behind the Seattle Sounders in their quest for the Supporters’ Shield after notching their second consecutive tie.
“It might sound like a broken record, but when we do the little things and connect passes, we’re a good team and can play with anyone,” said Chris Wondolowski, whose 66th-minute equalizer canceled out an Omar Gonzalez header goal.
“But when we don’t do that – we don’t track back, win our 50-50 battles or connect passes – we can get ourselves into serious trouble. (Today’s game) was the tale of two halves.
“It was good to get one (point), but we’re not in good enough shape to just get one point.”
In a match where the Galaxy were without suspended star Landon Donovan, and starting goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, the visitors
Gonzalez opened the scoring for the Galaxy in the 28th minute, powerfully heading down a Stefan Ishizaki corner kick that eluded Earthquakes rookie Tommy Thompson, who was defending the ball on the line, and ended up in the back of the net.
It could have been worse for the home side 12 minutes later as a routine cross was fumbled by Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch, falling to red-hot Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes.
Zardes shot was cleared off the line by defender Ty Hardin, but the rebound fell to Baggio Husidic who volleyed a shot off the hand of Jason Hernandez, forcing center referee Sorin Stoica to point to the spot.
With the opportunity to double their lead, Robbie Keane smashed the ensuing penalty off the crossbar, failing to convert the spot kick for the third time in four opportunities this season.
The miss would prove influential as San Jose got back into the game in the second half thanks to a trademark back-post run from Wondolowski.
Jordan Stewart, who was bombing up and down the left side from his fullback position all day, scuffed a shot through the Galaxy defense during a foray forward in the 66th minute.
Though the shot initially looked harmless, Wondolowski pounced on the ball and converted for his 13th goal of the season, ensuring that the sides would share the points.
“I think we’ll take something out of this game. When you consider the start we had, to get a point out of the game and have chances at the end to win – I think we’ll take something out of that,” Earthquakes head coach Mark Watson told reporters after the game. “We had a very poor start and it’s very frustrating to have a game like this and have that type of start from your group.”