After picking up their first shutout in more than one month, the Los Angeles Galaxy entered Saturday’s match at San Jose with a load of confidence, primed to continue tightening their stranglehold on the Western Conference.
But all that confidence and bravado lasted about four minutes.
Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made a goalkeeping blunder early on that led directly to a goal, and a defensive-minded San Jose squad kept the visitors from scoring as the Quakes beat the Galaxy, 1-0, at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Instead of heading back to Home Depot Center with three points, the Galaxy were left scratching their heads, wondering what went wrong.
At least they know the culprits.
“That's a game we should really win and take three points out of here, and we didn't,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “There's no one else to point to but ourselves.”
On several levels, the Galaxy were superior. They had more shots (17 to 15), more shots on goal (7 to 5) and dominated on the corner kicks (11 to 1). The only area in which San Jose was clearly better on the day was perhaps the only one that mattered. Jon Busch made seven saves, including several on Landon Donovan, that helped the Quakes protect their lead.
“It's hard to believe we didn't score in that game,” Donovan said. “Give them credit - they defended well, they played well. They got the goal they needed and were able to sit in and defend from there.”
Much like they did in the first meeting against San Jose, the Galaxy let San Jose open the scoring. On July 22, Bobby Convey scored in the second minute of the match. On Saturday, he found teammate Chris Wondolowski with a cross inside the penalty area. Convey lifted the ball in from some 35 yards out and the ball bounced between Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Wondolowski got to the ball as Ricketts scrambled back but the ‘Quakes forward slipped the ball in from a tight angle and gave the hosts the lead.
“We just made one mistake,” Donovan said. “Give Wondolowski credit, he took advantage of it.”
Stunned, the Galaxy tried to recover and nearly pulled one back right away. For the rest of the half, the Galaxy seemed to gain confidence in their attack and pressured the Quakes often. But Jon Busch came up with a stop on Donovan midway through the half and turned away Mike Magee just before halftime.
In the second half, the Galaxy mounted the pressure but were unable to beat Busch. Donovan had perhaps the best opportunity. In the 74th minute Sean Franklin took control of the ball on the right side of the field and found Donovan towards the top of the penalty area. Donovan rifled a volley on goal but Busch went to the ground to make the save.
The Galaxy’s last clear chance of the game sailed incredulously over the crossbar. In the 83rd minute, Alex Cazumba crossed the ball from the left side of the penalty area to the far post, where Edson Buddle stood. Convey flailed helplessly at Buddle, who had the entire right side of the box opened. Buddle, though, launched the ball upward and well over the crossbar.
It was just another area in which the Galaxy helped bury themselves.
“We didn't do well,” Arena said. “We gift-wrapped three points for San Jose.”