CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy dominated possession and dominated the scoring chances on Sunday, but were unable to earn the win at the final whistle, falling 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference First Leg at The Home Depot Center.
After playing in Thursday’s Knockout Round match on the flank, Donovan returned to the forward spot and was instrumental in creating chances for the Galaxy. Whether it was his pass that led to Robbie Keane’s shot off the cross bar in the 85th or a pass in the 63rd that set up a Marcelo Sarvas chance that sailed wide left, Donovan was active throughout the match.
However, it would prove for not as a Victor Bernárdez free kick goal gave the Earthquakes a 1-0 victory heading into the second leg at Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday.
Below are Donovan’s thoughts from Sunday’s match…
DONOVAN: “Yeah, it was never a game you would think that we would lose but, it was kind of one fluke play and we were a little unlucky. We probably weren’t sharp enough in the offensive part of the field, but at worse we thought we’d go up there 0-0 and just have to get a goal. Now it looks like we’ve got to get two. But, it’s not over, we’ve played well there twice this year and there’s no reason why we can’t win there.”
(On whether Sarvas’ foul was a foul…)
DONOVAN: Yeah, I mean during the game we didn’t think it was a foul. I think if you ask Ricardo again, he’d probably say it was a mistake, and he shouldn’t have called it. But we still had a chance to get our wall together and do a better job and those kind of plays happen. Sometimes you don’t get calls for you and you’ve got to do a good job with the resulting free kicks and we didn’t.”
DONOVAN: “Josh will be fine. It took a pretty nasty deflection, and it had a lot of spin on it. None of us field players know what it’s like to have that coming at you. There was some good pace on it too, but I think Josh is going to have a really good game Wednesday and give us a chance to win.”
(On LA’s finishing…)
DONOVAN: “We didn’t have too many great chances, but obviously unlucky with Robbie’s and probably didn’t run hard enough in front of the goal with a lot of the crosses we had. We got a number of decent chances and some good attacking play, and on Wednesday we’ve got to score.”
(On the lack of rest…)
DONOVAN: “It probably plays into it to some extent. This is a long season in this country and we play a lot of games over a short period of time, over only six months so the end of the year is hard. But we put ourselves in that position by finishing fourth, so we have no excuses; we’ll get ourselves ready physically. Mentally this is already behind us, and we’re going to go forward on Wednesday.”
(On the Galaxy’s mindset for Wednesday…)
DONOVAN: “First and foremost, we can’t concede. We’ve got to be smart with our defending, but we’re in a position now we’re we’ve got nothing to lose. So we’re going to go like we have always, we’re going to go and try to win the game. There’s no reason why the guys in this room can’t go win a game in San Jose.”
(On San Jose’s chaotic play…)
DONOVAN: “That’s sort of, we know how they play. The game settled down a little bit in the second half. We were a lot better, kind of wore them out. Quite a few of their guys were cramping, so maybe that will all come into play a little bit on Wednesday. We did a really good job of moving the ball and making them defend, we just weren’t sharp enough when we had chances to score.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Thoughts from San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop and goal scorer Victor Bernández after LA was defeated 1-0 by the Earthquakes in the Western Conference Semifinal First Leg.
(On his club’s goals in stoppage time..)
YALLOP: “It just shows the spirit of the team. We have scored a lot of late goals. It was strike by Vic. Obviously Josh spills it a little bit, but I thought it was an even g. They had some good chances, obviously Robbie Keane hitting the bar and having a few things scattered across the 6-yard box that were dangerous. I thought for an away performance with a pretty banged up squad, we’re obviously very happy with the result.”
(On whether the foul that led to the free kick was legit…)
YALLOP: I’ll have to look on video. I didn’t think Landon’s was, but if he gives it, he gives it. It’s still 30 yards from goal. It wasn’t a penalty, or right on the edge, so you’ve got to give credit to Victor with a good strike on target and obviously a good goal for us. Again, we just talked in there. It’s halftime. It was an even game, they shaded on chances for sure, but we’re going home now. Hopefully we can lift ourselves and have a good performance, but again, it’s halftime and we’re just going to get rested and get ready for that game.”
(On if he would have been happy to get out 0-0…)
YALLOP: “I didn’t play for nil-nil. We didn’t play for a draw. Simon’s not trained for basically five weeks, and played a game last time against the Galaxy two weeks ago, and he’s still struggling. He’s not really ready. Ramiro has played very well, and I thought he played great today. If you play with two wingers against a team like the Galaxy, especially in this place, with a big field you can get carved up and taken apart. You’ve got to look at the quality on their team, for us to come away with a win is amazing. They have some very, very good players that played well tonight but didn’t quite get the chances to go in for them.”
(On how difficult the second leg will be…)
YALLOP: We’re one-up, It’s halftime, but 90 minutes of football is a long, long time. They’re one-nil down so they’re going to throw everything at us to try to get the equalizer and obviously try to go on and win. We know that. We’ve faced a lot of adversity all year, being the unfashionable, fouling, ugly team. But 72 goals ain’t bad for an ugly team. So I kind of get pissed off when I get my team is coached that it’s ugly and doesn’t play good football. For me, it’s about winning. And we’ve played plenty of good football around the box. Ask our fans, they love it.”
(On his team’s shots on goal…)
YALLOP: I’d say the whole team. Obviously they’re the last line, and Jon too, but if you look at the team defending, I thought it was excellent. I thought our work rate was great, we tired a little bit, and they came onto us, which when you go away from home, it’s just a natural thing. You tend to tire more for some reason, because you’ve traveled. But I thought they pushed on in the second half, a little bit unlucky not to score. But I think in general, to keep them off the shot chart for 60 minutes is pretty good.
(On the goal…)
Bernárdez: “I’m always looking to score when I take a free kick like that from distance, and I was fortunate to have God on my side tonight. We played a strong game and were looking forward to Wednesday night. They have a very good team, and we have to be humble when we play them and respect them, but were looking for a good game Wednesday.”
(On whether he was surprised about the goal…)
Bernárdez: “The important thing is it went in. That’s all that really matters. I lined up the free kick to try to get a goal, and that was the result we got.”
CARSON, Calif. – Bruce Arena’s post game game thoughts from Sunday’s 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes victory over the LA Galaxy…
(On the foul on Simon Dawkins…)
ARENA: "No foul. If that's a foul in this game, then there's a hundred fouls.”
(On his thoughts on the game…)
ARENA: "I thought our team played well tonight. Obviously, we didn't finish off plays technically in and around the penalty area. It cost us the game. We were in position to get a goal or two tonight, for sure. Failed to execute the last pass or shot."
(On the Quakes setting a pace early that LA didn’t like…)
ARENA: "Strongly disagree with that statement. A little bit of a fresher team came at us hard. You saw what they looked like in the second half. They were the ones falling on the ground, taking players out with cramps and all. Maybe the pace wasn't to their liking."
(On any changes going forward…)
ARENA:"We obviously have to see how players come through this game. Obviously it's been a demanding week and make adjustments accordingly. That'll be right up until game time on Wednesday."
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...
LAGalaxy.com has provided this match preview of tonight's Western Conference Semifinal First Leg between the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes...
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan knows the intricacies of the California Clasico, perhaps, more than any other player or coach in MLS.
From 2001 to 2003, Donovan was a thorn in the Galaxy's side as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes, leading the Quakes to two MLS Cup titles in 2001 -- scoring in San Jose's 2-1 defeat of the Galaxy -- and 2003. When the U.S. International joined the Galaxy in 2004, the script was flipped as Donovan began terrorizing his former club, time and time again. Perhaps no moment was more distinctive than in 2005, when he helped LA eliminate the Supporters' Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference Semifinals en route to LA's second MLS Cup title.
On Sunday, Donovan will once again be at the forefront as the pair face off in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinal.
Donovan addresses his current state of mind, what his position might be on Sunday, and the role that referee Ricardo Salazar will have on the match below...
(On his mood heading into the game...)
DONOVAN: “I feel great. This is as good as I’ve felt in a long time, so I’m excited for tomorrow.”
(On LA’s postseason experience being an advantage of a San Jose team that is relatively inexperienced in the postseason…)
DONOVAN: “Well, I said before the Vancouver game that our experience can help us, if we use it to our advantage. At the end of the day, it’s still a soccer game and it’s 11 v. 11, but if we’re smart and we put ourselves in good positions, then I think that our experience can be a big factor, but we got to get there first.”
(On whether he'd rather play as a forward or in the midfield against San Jose...)
DONOVAN: “I leave that up to Bruce. I always try to be a player that could do whatever a coach needed. Wherever he asks me to play, I’m more than happy to play, and I think a lot of it depends on how the guys come out from the game on Thursday.”
(On San Jose’s tactics…)
DONOVAN: “They’re a physical team there’s no question. They’re an aggressive team. I don’t think that they’re particularly dirty in the things that they do. I think that they definitely bend the rules as much as they can. You have to rely on the officiating to some extent, to make sure that they’re protecting guys and seeing things, and calling plays that deserve to be fouls. I think that they probably get away with some borderline fouls more than other teams do. Fortunately, we have a great referee doing this game. One who has been in a lot of these games, and knows what kind of game that San Jose plays. I have no question that he’s going to take care of us.”
(On his conversation with the referee pregame…)
DONOVAN: “Sometimes you say things to officials if things are blatantly obvious, but it’s not your job. It’s the job of the officials to do their job. Some days you get refs that don’t see things and miss things, and that’s all part of the game. You can miss it both ways. I think Ricardo has been great all year and I think he’s going to do a great job. He knows, trust me, he’s watched enough games and done enough San Jose games where he knows the types of things that they tend to get away with. So my guess is that won’t happen."
(On San Jose’s ability to test the Galaxy…)
DONOVAN: “They test your ability to concentrate for 90 minutes. There’s a few teams in this league that if you’re not good on the day then they can really beat you, not just beat you, but beat you handily. San Jose has scored a bunch of goals on us this year, the moments that we haven’t been sharp, they’ve been good, and they’ve got three or four guys, who can absolutely punish you if you make mistakes and they’ve done that against us this year.”
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."