CARSON, Calif. – The task is simple, according to the LA Galaxy’s Mike Magee, regarding Wednesday’s Western Conference Semifinal Series second leg with the San Jose Earthquakes.
“All we need to literally do is win the game. That’s it,” the veteran midfielder said as he and the Galaxy prepared to take on the Earthquakes on Wednesday at tiny Buck Shaw Stadium (8 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 1150 AM, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT) in Santa Clara.
Sunday’s first leg of the home-and-home, aggregate goal series between the bitter Western Conference rivals literally went down to the wire, and San Jose scored a 1-0 victory on Victor Bernardez’s free kick well into stoppage time.
The Earthquakes are no strangers to such dramatics – Bernardez’s goal marked the ninth time this season San Jose has scored in stoppage time – and the Galaxy appeared to have quickly put the stunning series of events behind them.
“We were a little bit unlucky at the end,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “As they say, (bleep) happens and it happened.
“To advance in this tournament you have to win a game, and our objective is to win Wednesday and advance.”
The defending MLS Cup champion Galaxy will have to do it in a place that has resembled a chamber of horrors for the opposition. The Earthquakes went 9-0-6 in MLS games at Buck Shaw this season and have an 18-game unbeaten streak there, including a 2-2 tie with the Galaxy on Oct. 21.
Arena said there was a good deal he was pleased with in Sunday’s playoff battle at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy, for example, had decided advantage in shots (12-8) and owned a majority of the possession at just less than 60 percent.
“I thought the things they do well weren’t as apparent last night, so that’s good,” he said. “That means we defended well in the penalty area and did an excellent job on defending set pieces with the exception, obviously, basically the last play of the game.
“I think we could have been a little bit better with our advantage in possession and creating more chances in the final third of the field. Hopefully that’ll come on Wednesday.”
The Galaxy definitely will be ready, coaches and players vowed.
“I think we have a veteran team that knows it's halftime right now,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “Obviously you don’t want to give up a goal like that. You look at the Vancouver (playoff) game and we were down essentially with 90 minutes to go, 1-0 in that game as well, and we came back from that. That’s what we’re going to have to do with San Jose.
“We have a veteran team and we realize we have a lot of playing left. By no means is it over.”
Added Arena, “This is a 180-plus-minute competition. There’s a lot of soccer left to play before the outcome has been determined.”