CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy appeared headed for a scoreless draw on Sunday, when a Victor Bernárdez goal in the third minute of stoppage time gave the San Jose Earthquakes a 1-0 victory, setting up a decisive second leg on Wednesday.
Stoppage time goal aside, it was the Galaxy who controlled the tempo for wide stretches of the game, leading San Jose in possession (57.6 to 42.4), and attempts on goal (12 to 8), though a lack of sharpness in front of goal meant that the Galaxy did not register a shot on goal until the 66th minute of play.
That being said, LA had numerous chances to pull ahead throughout the match. The finest perhaps, was a Robbie Keane shot that rattled the crossbar after a fine buildup between the Irishman and Landon Donovan at the top of the 18. [watch highlights above]
“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,” said Donovan. “We got a number of decent chances and some good attacking play, and on Wednesday we’ve got to score.”
But in third minute of stoppage time, it was the Earthquakes who got on the board first. The play began a minute earlier when Marcelo Sarvas was called for a questionable foul on San Jose’s Simon Dawkins setting up a dangerous free kick from more than 30 yards out. Bernárdez stepped up and fired a shot that went under the wall, deflecting off Omar Gonzalez and rolling under goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who made the initial stop, only to see the ball squeeze underneath him.
The goal was the fourth straight goal that LA have conceded to San Jose on set pieces, a mark that began with Chris Wondolowski’s finish of a Marvin Chavez corner kick in the 61st minute of San Jose's 4-3 win over LA at Stanford Stadium in late June.
“It’s tough, but we have another game, and you’ve got to bounce back from it,” said Saunders. “It shows true character if you can come back and win this game, especially for myself, to put a good performance on the field.”
For the Galaxy to advance to the Western Conference Championship, they must do what no team has done this season—win at Buck Shaw Stadium. In 15 games at Buck Shaw Stadium, San Jose is unbeaten registering a 9-0-6 record. Despite their success at their home ground, they are winless at home in their last three regular season matches, earning three draws –including a 2-2 draw with the Galaxy—since a 4-0 win over Chivas USA on Sept. 2.
“Listen, it’s all to play for on Wednesday,” said Keane. “We obviously know what we’re in for, but we know it’s certainly going to be tough game when you go a goal behind anybody. Certainly a team that’s been a bogey side this year. Hopefully, we can pick ourselves up and show some character and try and get a result.”
Saunders for one is confident that LA can rebound.
“Absolutely,” said the Galaxy goalkeeper. “We have all the confidence in the world as a team.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider