Pregame Notes: Big night at Buck Shaw as Quakes play host to Galaxy

Playoff seeding at stake for LA in California Clasico

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs LA GALAXY
BUCK SHAW STADIUM, Santa Clara, Calif.
October 21, 2012 (WEEK 32, MLS Game #311)
4 p.m. PT (
TWC SportsNet, Galavisión, CSN-CA; LIVE CHAT)

The Supporters’ Shield could be decided when the San Jose Earthquakes meet the LA Galaxy in the third California Clasico this season, Sunday afternoon at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes can lay claim to the league’s best overall record with a victory, and the homefield advantage throughout the MLS Cup Playoffs that goes with it, following their 4-1 win at Colorado last time out. The Galaxy are securely in the postseason, but seeding is certainly at stake, sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference following their 2-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake before the international break.

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REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): George Gansner; 4th: Jesus Cisneros
MLS Career: 142 games; FC/gm: 24.1; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 32; pens: 44

INJURY REPORT:

  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – OUT: MF Mehdi Ballouchy (L knee ACL tear); MF Jacob Hustedt (L ankle surgery); MF Cesar Diaz Pizarro (R groin strain); DF Tim Ward (L non-specific soft tissue injury); QUESTIONABLE: DF Ike Opara (concussion); PROBABLE: GK David Bingham (R wrist sprain); MF Simon Dawkins (R ankle sprain); DF Justin Morrow (R shoulder sprain)
  • LA GALAXY – OUT: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain); DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: MF Landon Donovan (L knee bone bruise)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: SJ: Jason Hernandez (through Oct. 21)

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SJ: Marvin Chavez, Ramiro Corrales … LA: A.J. DeLaGarza
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SJ: Rafael Baca, Mehdi Ballouchy. Steven Beitashour, Sam Cronin, Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart, Chris Wondolowski … LA: David Beckham, Bryan Gaul, David Junior Lopes, Landon Donovan

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (50 meetings): Earthquakes 17 wins (1 shootout), 67 goals… Galaxy 25 wins (4 shootout), 78 goals… Ties 8
AT SAN JOSE (24 meetings): Earthquakes 12 wins (1 shootout), 37 goals … Galaxy 9 wins (2 shootout), 33 goals… Ties 5

2012 (MLS):

5/23: LA 2, SJ 3 (Jimenez 3; Magee 73 – Lenhart 76; Stephenson 82; Gordon 94+)

6/30: SJ 4, LA 3 (Lenhart 7; Bernardez 44; Cronin 47; Wondolowski 61 – Beckham 31; own goal 36; Donovan 41)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, and the Earthquakes have won the first two. Late goals from Khari Stephenson and the stoppage-time winner from Alan Gordon gave the Quakes a 3-2 victory, May 23 in Carson, then the Quakes came back from two goals down, capped by a Chris Wondolowski winner, in a fractious 4-3 win June 30 at Stanford Stadium before a crowd of more than 50,000.
  • The victory in the first meeting was the first for the Quakes at The Home Depot Center since 2005, snapping a four-game road winless streak vs. the Galaxy since San Jose returned to the league in 2008.
  • The Earthquakes have a six-game unbeaten streak alive at home against the Galaxy. The streak started Aug. 3, 2008, the second of the three meetings at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
  • The Galaxy have never won at Buck Shaw Stadium, with the Quakes having two wins in three all-time meetings in Santa Clara (with a draw). The first three northern California meetings between the teams after the Quakes’ return were all in Oakland.
  • Coaches record: Frank Yallop v LA: P22 W9 L8 D5 … Bruce Arena vs. SJ: P17 W7 L7 D3

LAST MEETING

  • Steven Lenhart put the Quakes up in the seventh minute, tapping home the rebound of a Marvin Chávez drive that Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders could only parry with his right hand.
  • But the Galaxy were level in the 31st minute after Mike Magee was pulled down some 21 yards from the Quakes goal. A flat-footed Jon Busch could only watch David Beckham’s masterfully struck free kick sail into the upper corner at the near post.
  • Five minutes later, Jason Hernandez tried to clear Hector Jimenez's dangerous cross, but instead knocked it past the helpless Busch. Landon Donovan then put the Galaxy in the driver’s seat with his 41st-minute score, a clinical finish from the heart of the box after a tic-tac-toe passing move that came after Hernandez's back pass was intercepted in front of the San Jose goal.
  • But the Quakes pulled a goal back just before the half, when Victor Bernárdez made a near-post run to meet a Chávez corner kick from the right, lashing it inside the back post. Two minutes after the restart, Sam Cronin pulled San Jose even, outracing Saunders to a long ball out of the Quakes half and sliding in to touch it home.
  • Then in the 61st minute, Chris Wondolowski conjured up the winner, breaking away from his marker and deftly redirecting Ramiro Corrales' flick on from a Chávez corner kick.
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch (David Bingham 46) - Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Victor Bernardez, Justin Morrow - Marvin Chavez (Khari Stephenson 88), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Ramiro Corrales - Steven Lenhart (Alan Gordon 68), Chris Wondolowski.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, David Junior Lopes, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant (Bryan Gaul 83) - Hector Jimenez (Marcelo Sarvas 81), Juninho, David Beckham, Mike Magee (Chad Barrett 74) - Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane.

LA GALAXY

The LA Galaxy had their undefeated run in league play snapped at seven games, Real Salt Lake coming back for a 2-1 win Oct. 6 at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy are in fourth place in the Western Conference with 50 points from 32 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Galaxy took the lead in the 15th minute. Juninho was given space to operate from a Sean Franklin throw-in on the right flank and arced a cross to the left side of the RSL box, where Robbie Keane measured it, and crushed a low, left-footed volley through the goalmouth and inside the right post.
  • Yet Real were level barely eight minutes later. Alvaro Saborío played Javier Morales clear after Fabian Espíndola dummied a pass to the semicircle, Espíndola then stroking home a low blast from the left side of the box.
  • RSL made it 2-1 less than three minutes later. Espíndola slipped into space above defenders Omar Gonzalez and Sean Franklin to powerfully head home Morales' cross from the right wing.
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Tommy Meyer and Bryan Gaul came into the back four for A.J. DeLaGarza and Todd Dunivant.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer (Christian Wilhelmsson 85), Bryan Gaul - Mike Magee (Edson Buddle 61), Juninho, David Beckham, Marcelo Sarvas - Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan (Jose Villarreal 85).

TEAM NEWS

  • The defeat to RSL left the Galaxy in a precarious position entering the final two matches of the season, the trip to San Jose and a home match vs. Seattle. The Galaxy are three points behind Sounders FC – and six behind RSL – sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference, which would mean a match in the Knockout Round to start the MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • READ: The Galaxy Playoff Picture: Aftermath from RSL’s 0-0 draw with Seattle
  • “That goal just got a lot more difficult so we’re probably going to have to win both games and we’ll see what happens,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “The goal is to be at least third. If you’re fourth, obviously there’s a disadvantage in playing an extra game, but we’re a deep team and if we have to do that we have to do that.”
  • Said center back Omar Gonzalez: “We certainly don't want the play-in game. I think right now we're just trying to get in second or third, and it's looking right now like it's kind of tough to be second, so we're fighting for that third spot. I think Seattle plays Salt Lake next, so, hopefully, they can help us out there. But we've just got to win out.”
  • There was a huge injury concern at end of the match when Landon Donovan was forced off in the late going following a challenge by RSL defender Jamíson Olave.
  • READ: Donovan progressing from injury, status in question for LA's final two games
  • Robbie Keane scored his 15th goal of the season – his 11th in the last 14 games – in the loss. Keane sits in fourth in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
  • But after he was called into the Ireland national team for their World Cup qualifiers, Keane was not able to feature after suffering an Achilles injury.
  • “I've had a problem with my Achilles for a while,” Keane told The Irish Times before the first qualifier against Germany. “I got a kick on it [Tuesday] in training, and it has swollen up. I've had a scan on it. ... It's a bit sore, but I hope to play.”
  • With center back A.J. DeLaGarza out with a knee injury, rookie Tommy Meyer filled his spot in central defense, his first league start since May 5.
  • “Their first goal came a little bit against the run of play, but we were sloppy defending in our penalty area, not real sharp with our attacking play in the other penalty area,” said Arena. “We just weren’t sharp enough for 90 minutes. … I wouldn’t say the story of this game tonight is the fact that we’re missing players on our backline. We weren’t good enough for 90 minutes all over the field.”
  • Bryan Gaul also made his first start since Aug. 5, coming in at left back for Todd Dunivant, who was out with hip and oblique injuries.
  • “Not good timing at all,” Dunivant said. “I would have done anything I could to play [against RSL], but there was really no way. It's one of those things you can't really help.”
  • READ: Defender Todd Dunivant fit for San Jose match
  • Edson Buddle came on for the final 29 minutes, the longest shift in his five substitute appearances since returning from injury after three months out.
  • “I wanted to get a goal. Our service wasn’t good. We didn’t get a whole lot of spark out of the changes we made,” said Arena. “I just think over 90 minutes we didn’t play well. They defended well. The play in the goal was quite good. I thought Josh Saunders did an excellent job in making some saves to keep us in the game toward the end. “

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The San Jose Earthquakes stretched their undefeated streak to seven games in impressive fashion, strolling to a 4-1 win against the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 6 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Quakes lead the Western Conference and the MLS overall table with 64 points from 32 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Quakes were in front before the game was two minutes old. From a Sam Cronin free kick, Rapids defender Marvell Wynne bounced a clearance off Chris Wondolowski that deflected out to Marvin Chávez, and he whipped in a hard strike from 18 yards out.
  • San Jose doubled their advantage on the counter-attack less than 10 minutes later. Rafael Baca sprinted upfield along the left wing and centered for Wondolowski, who chested home for a 2-0 Earthquakes lead.
  • Wondolowski then put the game out of reach with a 51st-minute finish, gathering the ball at the top of the box after a failed clearance from Wynne and unleashing a shot that deflected off Rapids defender Drew Moor and into the net.
  • In the 84th minute, Wondolowski capped his scoring with a clean finish just inside the penalty area, his 25th of the season, and just two goals shy of Roy Lassiter’s all-time MLS-best 27 goals in 1996.
  • In stoppage time, San Jose’s Jason Hernandez received a straight red card for a challenge from behind, and Andre Akpan scored from the resulting penalty kick.
  • Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made two changes to the team that ended in a 3-3 draw with FC Dallas at Buck Shaw Stadium. Ramiro Corrales came into the back four for Victor Bernardez, and Steven Lenhart started in place of Mehdi Ballouchy.
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-4-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez (sent off 91+), Justin Morrow, Ramiro Corrales - Marvin Chavez (Khari Stephenson 84), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Chris Wondolowski - Alan Gordon (Shea Salinas 67), Steven Lenhart (Jean-Marc Alexandre 88).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Quakes can clinch the Supporters’ Shield with a win in either of their final two games, or the failure of Sporting Kansas City to win their last two matches. That would clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs – including hosting MLS Cup, if they reach it.
  • “Two hard games so we just want to keep doing what we've done all year,” said San Jose head coach Frank Yallop. “Just these last seven games, we've shown resilience when if we've lost the game, you usually come back and get a tie or a win, and that's the sign of a good team, and I think that's the sign of a team that doesn't give up. I think that's pretty much what we've done all year. We've not given up on anything and kept going.
  • The Earthquakes scored four or more goals in a game for the sixth time in the win at Colorado. The Quakes have scored multiple goals in seven consecutive games, since Aug. 25, with 21 goals in that time.
  • With 69 goals in 32 games on the season, the Quakes are averaging 2.16 goals per game. If that holds up, it will be fifth-highest goals-per-game average over a season in MLS history, and the highest in any season since 2001.
  • Now with 25 goals, Chris Wondolowski is fourth on the MLS all-time single-season scoring list, one back of Stern John (Columbus, 1998) and Mamadou Diallo (Tampa Bay, 2000) and two behind record-holder Roy Lassiter, who set the mark in the league’s inaugural season with Tampa Bay.
  • “It’s been surreal, to be honest,” Wondolowski said. “The names I see up there are unbelievable. Roy Lassiter and guys like that, those guys are absolute legends. It’s a true honor. It’s something that I do take a lot of pride in, but it hasn’t sunk in yet.”
  • Wondolowski has also once again gotten hot at the end of the season, with eight goals in his last five matches. A year ago, he had eight goals in the last nine games, after scoring 10 goals in the last eight matches in 2010. Wondolowski is bidding to become the first player in league history to lead in goals scored in three consecutive season, winning the Golden Boot with 18 goals in 2010, and tying for the league lead with 16 goals last year.
  • “I'm not even sure if I'm the MVP of my team. We have so many great guys that have been doing some things. I kind of get the stats I guess, but it's definitely team-oriented,” said Wondolowski. “If you look at tonight, we had the "Twin Towers" [Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon], the "Bash Brothers" playing so well, I just kind of picked up some loose balls in the box so I appreciate the work that they do. It’s definitely tough work.
  • Said Yallop: “He scored 25 goals in a tough league to score goals in, as any other strikers that play in this league will tell you. Then to get that many, he has a chance of beating the record now. He played wide left and wide right today so it doesn't matter where he plays. He scores goals.”
  • Wondolowski also became the Earthquakes all-time goalscoring leader, surpassing Ronald Cerritos, now with 62 goals scored for the club.
  • “It’s a great feat,” Yallop said. “Chris has been doing it for three years. It’s a great honor to pass a goal-scoring legend in San Jose. I think Wondo’s on a pretty good tear right now.”
  • Marvín Chávez collected his 11th assist in the win at Colorado, the most for an Earthquakes player since their return to the league in 2008.
  • From the start, Yallop ran out his trio of double-digit goalscorers, with Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart forming the strike pair and Wondolowski filling a wide attacking midfield role. San Jose has 13 goals in 316 minutes with the threesome on the pitch together.
  • “I loved every minute of it. Wondo got his goals from the outside. Lenny and I were being strong and being a handful, and it worked out tonight,” said Gordon.