SANTA CLARA, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to the LA Galaxy’s 3-1 – and 3-2 on aggregate -- victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday.
BERNARDEZ SUBSTITUTION CHANGES THE GAME
After a tense opening 10 minutes, the Western Conference Semifinal appeared to be setting up to be a knockdown, drag out grudge match, but the game took a dramatic turn in the 12th minute when San Jose’s Defender of the Year candidate Victor Bernárdez was forced to leave the match with an injury.
The burly Honduran had been tangling with Galaxy attackers throughout the match, but in the 11th minute Bernardez picked up a left knee sprain after a collision with a Galaxy player near the box. The injury forced young Ike Opara into action and immediately changed the game. The Galaxy quickly focused their attack on Opara—who had played just 36 minutes since Sept. 19— with Robbie Keane bypassing the defender to score LA’s first two goals.
Opara had the ultimate chance of redemption in the second minute of stoppage time as he found himself with the ball at his feet and a clear path to goal, only to blaze his shot over the bar from less than 10 yards out.
THE GOONIES SAY DIE
The LA Galaxy may have been up two goals on aggregate heading into the last 10 minutes, but the cardiac kids, as the Quakes were called this season, made them work for every last inch.
After the Earthquakes dominated possession throughout the second half, ex-Galaxy man Alan Gordon cut LA's series lead to just a single goal in the 82nd minute as he finished a bouncing ball in the box inside the left post. With just a single goal separating the two teams from extratime, the Earthquakes ramped up the pressure and while LA’s defense bent, they did not break.
With the seconds ticking away, the Earthquakes heaved balls into the box, but time and time again, LA was able to make a clutch clearance or tackle to see off “the Goonies.”
MEYER ENJOYS HIS FINEST GAME OF HIS CAREER
Robbie Keane and Mike Magee may have scored the goals for the LA Galaxy, but LA’s victory could not have been obtained without the play of rookie Tommy Meyer.
Throughout the match, the rookie center back created a formidable tandem with Omar Gonzalez as the Galaxy attacking duo repeatedly shutdown dangerous chances from San Jose’s attacking trio of Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon. Meyer also got into the attack as well as he fired a pinpoint pass towards the right flank to set up a Landon Donovan run up field that led to Robbie Keane’s second goal of the night.
Meyer was, perhaps, at his best in the closing stages as he helped the Galaxy hold onto their aggregate lead after a late push by San Jose.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxy.com/Insider