Three Points: LA Galaxy looking to seal postseason berth over bitter rival San Jose Earthquakes

Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to the match against the San Jose Earthquakes

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USA Today Sports

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano provides his Three Points to the LA Galaxy’s regular season home finale against the San Jose Earthquakes. A victory or draw with the Earthquakes will assure a postseason berth for the Galaxy.

CONTROL POSSESSION AND BREAK EARTHQUAKES DEFENSE

The San Jose Earthquakes new defensive-first approach should provide the LA Galaxy with plenty of possession from the get-go on Sunday, but what they’re able to do with their chances will decide the outcome of the match.

From the start, San Jose should cede plenty of touches to the Galaxy attackers as they look to stay organized and capitalize on any opportunities that LA provides them on the counter. With the Earthquakes dropping back in numbers, it should allow the Galaxy plenty of time to try and find any holes in the compact San Jose defense.  Leading the charge to crack San Jose back four will be midfielders Marcelo Sarvas and Gyasi Zardes, who have shined as of late in firing in timely passes to unlock opposing defenses. 

With plenty of possession from the outset, the emphasis will be for LA to grab a goal early, which should open up the match even more thus leading to further chances for a hungry Galaxy attack.

LIMIT THE SAN JOSE WIDE PLAY

When the Earthquakes have chances going forward, they’ll be relying on their old staple of utilizing their fleet-footed wingers to launch crosses to their opportunistic forwards.

Left sided midfielder Shea Salinas has been a major asset during the Earthquakes attack this season by tallying a team-leading eight assists including two during the team’s three matches. Salinas’ ability to use his speed to get behind defenses and whip crosses into the penalty area for San Jose’s forward trio of Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart, and Chris Wondolowski is integral to the Earthquakes attack. To date, seven of Salinas’ eight assists have led to goals by the trio with Wondolowski serving as the primary recipient with three goals off passes from Salinas.  

The task of shutting down Salinas will fall to LA’s right sided tandem of Michael Stephens and Sean Franklin, who will need to hold a deep line to prevent the midfielder from finding space to get in behind them.

INJECTION OF TALENT IMMINENT FOR THE LA GALAXY

With a playoff berth on the line and an a top three seed in the Western Conference a legitimate possibility, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena should have a full squad to choose from on Sunday.

Landon Donovan (left ankle inflammation) and Omar Gonzalez (left hip strain) are questionable due to injuries, but both players remain optimistic that they will be able to suit up in a pivotal fixture that could help decide LA’s postseason fate. The return of Gonzalez poses a major question in central defense as both Kofi Opare and Leonardo impressed against Montreal and both appear to be strong contenders to start alongside the U.S. international.  

Meanwhile, starting goalkeeper Jaime Penedo will return to the starting XI from international duty after Panama’s crushing defeat to the U.S. that ended the Central American nation’s dreams of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. LA will need the Panamanian to shake off the memory of this loss as when they face a cagey Earthquakes side determined to keep their postseason dreams alive.

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com