CARSON, Calif. – Immediately after the LA Galaxy’s 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, head coach Bruce Arena was asked a seemingly innocuous question about the importance team’s “numerical” dominance on Friday.
But rather than wax poetic about the team’s leading in every “numerical” category, Arena snapped back.
“You mean statistically?” asked Arena. “It doesn’t matter if the statistics show that we had 70 percent position or whatever. The only statistic that matters is the score.”
Regardless of Arena’s perception of the meaning of the stat sheet, the Galaxy’s control of the game was apparent as the club led in possession (69.8 to 30.2), passing accuracy (87.2 to 66.7), corners (10 to 0), and of course, shots (24 to 3). After displaying such statistical dominance over an archrival, it was understandable that LA were less than pleased.
“We had a ton of the possession, but we gave up silly counterattack goals that were easily avoidable,” said Gonzalez. “We were pushing numbers forward and we got caught.”
Gonzalez continued, “If that’s the way that [San Jose] want to play then that’s the way that they want to play, it’s not easy to come to StubHub Center and play because the field is so wide. They wanted to stay narrow and keep 10 guys behind the ball. That’s what they did but it’s not going to work every time. We’re going to be able to break down teams. Tonight just wasn’t our night.”
Despite the frustration of his teammates and coaches, Landon Donovan provided the calm head when reflecting on the “frustrating” result.
“It was a tie that feels like a loss, but I think that when we wake up in the morning we’ll realize one point is better than none, and to come back twice from a goal down is still good,” said Donovan, who played his final home game against his former club after announcing his retirement at season’s end on Thursday. “We played well, we controlled the game, but we made a couple of mistakes. Generally a team has three or four shots and they’re not going to score twice, but that’s the way it went tonight and we did everything we could the ball just didn’t find the net in the end.”
The lack of sharpness in the final third certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying as the Galaxy appeared even more dominant than they had in their runaway victories against the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC. However unlike Portland or Seattle, the Earthquakes packed numbers in the final third to stymie a Galaxy attack that had scored six goals in their last two games.
With San Jose defending deep in their own end, it was no surprise that they ended the game having blocked nine of LA’s 24 shots.
“You have to give them credit; they defended very well especially at the end. For them to come in and be up a goal twice was probably surprising,” Donovan said. “They did well when they did that to kind of conserve the point that they wanted to get for them, that’s a big point and you have to give them credit for that. It’s frustrating for us but it could’ve been worse and one point is better than none.”
But looking forward, one question remains: is there any concern that team’s will follow the Earthquakes’ defensive ways in order to prevent the Galaxy from parlaying “statistical” success into victories?
Not at all, Gonzalez asserted postgame.
“We’re a good team and other teams around the league are starting to see that. We’re definitely now more aware of that and we’ll be able to stop that in the future. As long as we continue to get the ball wide,” said Gonzalez. “We’re going to get our chances; we just need to be more lethal and deadly to score every chance that we get.”