CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders enjoyed yet another strong game on Sunday making a pair of saves against the San Jose Earthquakes, but an unlucky bounce proved decisive in Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal first leg.
The play began with a questionable foul on Simon Dawkins by midfielder Marcelo Sarvas in the second minute of stoppage time, setting up a free kick chance from more than 30 yards for Victor Bernárdez. The Honduran defender fired his shot under the wall, trickling off Omar Gonzalez and rolling under Saunders, who made the initial stop, only to see the ball squeeze underneath him to give San Jose a 1-0 victory at The Home Depot Center.Below are Saunders thoughts on the match and the goal.
Below Saunders discusses the play and Wednesday's second leg at Buck Shaw Stadium...
(On what he saw on the shot…)
SAUNDERS: “Basically, you’re trying to see through the wall. The ball goes through the wall, deflects, takes a weird spin, and you’re trying to react based on what’s happening in front of you. My play was not acceptable. I'll take the blame for covering the goal, and unfortunately that’s what happened.”
(On whether he did not see the shot…)
SAUNDERS: “It’s not a surprise. You know he’s going to hit it with pace. I mean he hits the ball very well -- he did it earlier in the game. And yeah, it’s just one of those things. It deflects, goes through the all and you’re just trying to react based on what you see.”
(On the result being tough to handle…)
SAUNDERS: “It’s tough, but we have another game, and you’ve got to bounce back from it. It shows true character if you can come back and win this game, especially for myself, to put a good performance on the field.”
(On San Jose’s comebacks…)
SAUNDERS: “They have a will to win and we have to turn around and do that ourselves.”
(On LA having confidence that they can get a result at Buck Shaw…)
SAUNDERS: “Absolutely. We have all the confidence in the world as a team.”
(On whether he stopped the ball and then landed on it…)
SAUNDERS: Yeah, it just kind of caught ... like I said, took a weird spin, got caught underneath me, and it was behind me before I knew it.
(On whether Saunders saw the foul…)
SAUNDERS: “No I didn’t. Ref blew the whistle and you got to take what he sees as a part of the game. And he blew the foul.”
CARSON, Calif. -- A couple of notes from the LA Galaxy's 1-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes
*Victor Bernardez scored in the third minute of stoppage time from a free kick won by Simon Dawkins.
*The LA Galaxy did not have a shot on goal until a 66th minute effort by Sean Franklin. The second came less than ten minutes later when a Robbie Keane shot was saved by Busch.
*The last four goals that LA have conceded to San Jose have come off set pieces - dating back to Chris Wondolowski's goal off a Marvin Chavez corner kick in the 61st minute of play in San Jose's 4-3 win over LA at Stanford Stadium in June.
*During the match, Time Warner Cable Sports announced that have reached a deal with Cox Cable to air their two sports networks. More on this soon.
*San Jose Earthquakes have nine stoppage time goals this season -- six of which are game winners.
The return leg is at Buck Shaw Stadium at 8 pm PT on ESPN2.
We're just hours from the game so here are a few links and observations to get you to kick off.
*Landon Donovan talks about his role against San Jose, referee Ricardo Salazar, and more
*Donovan also spoke about the play of Steven Lenhart, Alan Gordon and Chris Wondolowski
*Todd Dunivant talks about the fact that there is no disadvantage for LA to host the first leg rather than the second leg.
*LAGalaxy.com's John Wilkinson gives his match preview of the game .
*Also, if Juninho is unable to play then expect Marcelo Sarvas to start.
Lastly, check out my Three Points to the match
KEY MATCH UPS
Robbie Keane vs. Victor Bernadez
The burly Honduran defender is considered by many to be the club's most important player, but he'll have his hands full against an in-form Keane.
Omar Gonzalez/Tommy Meyer vs. Steven Lenhart/Chris Wondolowski
The main event of sorts. Gonzalez and the rookie Meyer will be tasked with shutting down the divisive Lenhart and MLS goal-king Wondolowski.
Todd Dunivant vs. Martin Chavez
Perhaps one of the most important battles of the night, Dunivant is expected to be tested early and often by Chavez, who tallied ten assists in the regular season.
Western Conference Semifinal First Legs
Seattle Sounders 0 - Real Salt Lake 0
Eastern Conference Semifinals First Legs
D.C. United 1 - New York Red Bulls 1
Houston Dynamo 2 - Sporting Kansas City 0
PREDICTED LINEUP: Saunders; Franklin, Gonzalez, Meyer, Dunivant; Sarvas, Juninho, Beckham, Magee ; Donovan, Keane
Kick off for tonight's Western Conference Semifinal First Leg between the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes is just a few hours away.
Below is Mark Rogondino's View from the Booth...
Wilhelmsson "likely" to be available on Sunday, no word on DeLaGarza's availability for the postseason.
CARSON, Calif. -- After missing Thursday's Knockout Round match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC with soreness in his right quadriceps, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters on Saturday that Christian Wilhelmsson will "likely" be available for Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal first leg against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Wilhelmsson trained on Saturday for the first time since suffering the injury during Wednesday's training session. With squad rotation likely due to the three day turnaround between the Vancouver and San Jose games, if Wilhelmsson is available, he could potentially slide into midfield on either flank against the Earthquakes. The Swedish International has shown that he can have success against the San Jose as he was particularly dangerous during his 79 minute stint in LA's 2-2 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium in October.
But while Wilhelmsson appears available to play on Sunday, Arena remains coy on the status of defender A.J. DeLaGarza. The Galaxy centerback picked up left MCL sprain due to a collision with Colorado Rapids forward Omar Cummings in LA's 1-1 draw at Dick's Sporting Goods Park back on Sept. 30 and is currently listed as out on the club's official injury report. The injury prevented DeLaGarza from appearing in LA's final two Regular Season matches, but when asked on Saturday if DeLaGarza would miss out on the postseason, Arena said that no decision has been made.
"I have not moved towards that conclusion one way or the other," said Arena. "I haven't moved towards that conclusion. I was terrible in biology and never took anatomy or physiology, so I don't know the answers to those questions."
CARSON, Calif. -- Count Landon Donovan among those impressed by the San Jose Earthquakes forward trio of Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart, and Chris Wondolowski.
The Galaxy defense will have their hands full attempting to stop the trio, who accounted for 50 goals of the 72 that the Earthquakes scored this season. To put that in perspective, it is more than five of the teams that qualified for MLS Cup Playoffs, and would be in the sixth highest team output this season.
The most divisive of the trio is Lenhart, whose physical playing style has drawn the ire of many of his opponents this season, but has also seen him tally a total of 10 goals and two assists this season. Such an output led one reporter on Saturday to question whether Lenhart was U.S. National team material and while Donovan admitted that he'd leave the decision to U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Lenhart could be counted among the many that could help the USMNT.
"That’s not my decision to make, but I think that he’s had a great year. I think him and Gordon have a great partnership; him and Wondolowski have a great partnership. He’s a big part of their team and a player that we have to contain,” said Donovan. “There’s a lot of guys that could help the national team. I assume that anybody playing against him wouldn’t be too happy if they saw him lining up on the other side of the field from the U.S. team so you never know.”
But Donovan saved his chief praise for Wondolowski, who tied Roy Lassiter's record for most goals in a single season with 27 this year.
"I’ve talked to Frank [Yallop] about him actually and he says that he spends a lot of time in front of the goal everyday doing finishing. He plays on a team where he’s not asked to do a lot more than just get in front of the goal, and be dangerous. His runs are excellent, his timing is as good as anyone in this league, and his pure finishing ability is as good as anyone in this league right now," said Donovan. "When he gets a chance then he buries it. That’s a credit to how hard he works. I think people assume that he just all of a sudden became this great goal scorer. I think in talking to Frank and seeing him during the All-Star Game or with the national team, you see how much time that he spends doing it. I always like to say, success is no accident and it’s certainly not with him.”
CARSON, Calif. – With a quick turnaround and numerous injuries, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has repeatedly stated that he anticipates lineup changes for Sunday’s Western Conference Semifinal first leg
One potential change could see Marcelo Sarvas slot into the center of midfield, in place of his compatriot Juninho. During Thursday’s Knockout Round victory over Vancouver Whitecaps, Juninho took a knock to his right Achilles, but has admitted that he is hopeful that he could feature in some capacity on Sunday. Juninho did not train on Saturday, but head coach Bruce Arena told reporters after training that “his status is that he’ll be playing” on Sunday.
However, if Juninho is unable to start, Sarvas represents an option, particularly after his role in helping spark the Galaxy attack in Thursday's win.
“I don’t know what is going to happen. I hope [Juninho is] back and we have our full team ready to play,” said Sarvas. “If I have to play there, you don’t have to think too much, you just have to be ready to help the team in that position.”
Adding Sarvas to the lineup could be a benefit for LA as the Brazilian midfielder enjoyed great success during the two teams’ 2-2 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium in October. Throughout the match, Sarvas helped fuel the Galaxy attack by completing 24 of 31 passes while helping LA control wide stretches of the game. Despite his success, San Jose was still able to battle back from two deficits to earn a 2-2 draw against the Galaxy. But regardless of the result, Sarvas believes the Galaxy understand San Jose’s style of play.
“It’s a very simple game, the ball is in the defense, it’s a long ball direct to the forwards, and we fight for the second ball. For 90 minutes, they play like that. It’s nothing beautiful to see, it’s some kind of boring football in my opinion, but it’s the way that they are leading the league so we have to respect that, and be ready for it.”
And just how does Sarvas believe the Galaxy will approach San Jose?
“You have to be physical also; you have to be ready for the second balls,” said Sarvas. “You cannot rest during the game; you have to be alert for 90 minutes.”
CARSON, Calif. – After missing Thursday’s Knockout Round match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC with tightness in left hamstring, right back Sean Franklin is hopeful that he can participate in Sunday’s Western Conference Final first leg against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Franklin told reporters after training on Saturday that the tightness in his hamstring stopped “a couple of days ago,” causing him to be optimistic for Sunday.
“Everything seems good,” said Franklin. “I trained the last two days so we’ll see how I feel tomorrow. It’s up to the trainers and we’ll talk to Bruce about it. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, playing tomorrow.”
While those comments are similar to the ones that Franklin made following last Sunday’s match against the Seattle Sounders, -- when the injury first surfaced and caused him to exit the match at the half-- Franklin admitted that need to be smart about his injury prevented him from playing on Thursday.
“It was something where it was the right time to be smart about it,” said Franklin. “I felt something in the Seattle game, they said be smart about it and I’m trying to do everything that I can to make sure that it’s 100 percent.”,
CARSON, Calif. -- The Professional Referee Organization announced on Friday via Twitter that Referee Ricardo Salazar will officiate Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal first leg between the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.
Salazar officiated just two Galaxy matches this season, LA's match against the New England Revolution in March, and their 1-1 draw with FC Dallas in April that saw him deal out six cautions -- three to the Galaxy -- and award a penalty kick for each side. Meawnhile, Salazar officiated just two San Jose matches this season, a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls in April where he issued four cautions and a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA in May that saw him issue five yellow cards -- three to San Jose . Salazar has a history of officiating big games at The Home Depot Center having served as the referee for the 2011 MLS Cup Final.
While Sunday's clash between the Galaxy and San Jose promises to be a physical clash, the Galaxy believe that they will need to focus on their gameplan rather than Salazar's officiating.
“It's something that we can’t worry about. We can’t think about the referees, we just have to go into the game,” said Dunivant after training on Friday. “Salazar doing the game; he’s probably the best ref in the league. He did our final last year and has done a lot of big games, so he won’t be an excuse for us. We can’t think about the referees going into this game, we have to think about San Jose.”
CARSON, Calif. -- For the first time since 2005, the LA Galaxy head into the Western Conference Semifinal as the series’ lowest seed, meaning that The Home Depot Center will host the first leg of the two-leg series against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Of the 36 home-and-home series in MLS history since their introduction during the 2003 MLS Cup playoffs, the top seeds have advanced 22 times. Whether this actually classifies a competitive advantage or disadvantage for either team remains a heated topic for debate, but Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant is convinced that it means little.
“I guess that technically it should be, but in reality, it’s not. A lot of times, the only real advantage to having the second leg at home is knowing what you need to do and also having that overtime in penalties, but that’s not a huge advantage,” said Dunivant. “Last year, Salt Lake got up 3-0 on Seattle and it was too big a hill for [the Sounders] to climb when they got home. It can go either way, D.C.. and New York just swapped, and I don’t think that’s going to change drastically what is happening in that series. It is two games and you have 180 minutes to decide who is going through and who is advancing.”
Curiously enough, LA’s opponents in that 2005 series? None other than the 2005 Supporters’ Shield winners, the San Jose Earthquakes.