SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A sell-out crowd of 10,799 came to Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday eagerly awaiting the debut of Geovanni, San Jose’s first designated player.
However, Bobby Convey and Chris Wondolowski gave them a bit of old-school Quakes offense to tide them over, combining for the only goal as San Jose edged California rivals LA Galaxy, 1-0, on Saturday.
Geovanni did make his first MLS appearance after signing Monday, coming on in the 72nd minute for Cornell Glen, but it was Convey’s long pass and Wondolowski’s precise finish in the fourth minute that made the difference.
The Quakes’ score was a bolt from the blue that delighted the capacity crowd. Convey sent in a hopeful, cross-box pass from his left back position which didn’t seem particularly dangerous initially. But left back A.J. DeLaGarza pulled off his clearance run at the last minute, presumably to allow the charging Donovan Ricketts free rein to scoop up the ball, and Ricketts whiffed on it.
Wondolowski, left alone at the back post, waited for an extra bounce to settle the ball and slotted it home despite the tough angle from just a few feet off the touch line.
In terms of timing, it was a near repeat of the Quakes’ start when they faced the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center last month; Convey scored in the second minute of that match, hammering home a rebound that Ricketts failed to corral.
But league-leading Los Angeles (13-4-4) were able to come back twice in that match to force a 2-2 tie. This time, San Jose (8-6-5) held on for a victory that gives a critical boost to their playoff hopes.
San Jose held their own in possession after Wondolowski’s score, often outmuscling the Galaxy, but Los Angeles had by far the better scoring chances before intermission.
Mike Magee, making his first start since going down with a sports hernia in May, was sprung by Donovan in the 27th minute, but he pulled his shot just wide of the far post. Jon Busch – reinserted in the starting lineup after Joe Cannon broke his ankle in training on Tuesday – stopped Magee in a similar situation in the 43rd minute.
Busch came up with the save of the half in the 39th minute when Buddle collected a San Jose turnover and sent Donovan in for a one-on-one opportunity. Donovan fired from 13 yards with his left foot, but Busch dropped to the ground and expertly smothered the attempt.
The Galaxy dominated the second half, putting the Quakes on notice just two minutes after intermission when Busch had to grab a solid header from Buddle off a Donovan free kick. Los Angeles took eight of the first 10 shots in the period, but Busch was up to the task.
Donovan then ripped a left-footed volley in the 74th minute, running onto a pass from Sean Franklin, but Busch once again repelled it.
San Jose weren’t wholly lacking for chances to put the game away. Glen redirected a feed from Wondolowski in the 49th minute, but the ball caught the left post and bounced back to Ricketts.
The Galaxy were without defender Todd Dunivant due to neck spasms, and also missed defender Gregg Berhalter, who had started 15 of the Galaxy’s last 16 matches, and forward Tristan Bowen, both of whom were said to have flu-like symptoms.
LA Galaxy 0, at San Jose Earthquakes 1
Buck Shaw Stadium
Los Angeles Galaxy (13-4-4)
San Jose Earthquakes (8-6-5)
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 8 (Bobby Convey 9, Arturo Alvarez 1) 4
LA -- Omar Gonzalez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 48
SJ -- Arturo Alvarez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 54
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, A.J. DeLaGarza (Bryan Jordan 77), Michael Stephens (Alex Cazumba 67), Chris Birchall, Juninho, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Mike Magee (Eddie Lewis 59).
Substitutes Not Used: Jovan Kirovski, Chris Klein, Dema Kovalenko, Josh Saunders.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Tim Ward, Bobby Burling, Brandon McDonald, Bobby Convey, Arturo Alvarez (Ryan Johnson 77), Sam Cronin, Khari Stephenson, Joey Gjertsen, Cornell Glen (Geovanni 72), Chris Wondolowski.
Substitutes Not Used: Steven Beitashour, Omar Jasseh, Brad Ring, Scott Sealy, Alex Horwath.
Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Peter Manikowski
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja
Time of Game: 1:56