CARSON Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes are saying all the right things by promising that they will not sit back and defend their 1-0 series lead on the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, but the Galaxy are expecting plenty of scoring chances at Buck Shaw Stadium as they look to comeback in the Western Conference Semifinal.
LA dominated possession 57.2 to 42.8 while generating a number of scoring chances that appeared far more than the 12 to eight margin. The Galaxy also had a wide lead in crosses by 21 to 11 margin, despite flank play being a major strength for San Jose throughout the season. However, despite all the chances and pressure, LA was unable to break through, eventually falling on Victor Bernárdez’s stoppage time winner.
As LA prepare for Wednesday’s Western Conference Semifinal, they expect a similar defensive shape from San Jose.
“I’m sure they’ll be a little bit more cautious then they have been. They’ve played that system all season and they haven’t changed but who knows. The two midfielders kept the same shape, but they weren’t pushing forward, but they were just sitting in front of the back four,” said forward Robbie Keane. “So they were probably watching the Vancouver that was the same scenario with the two midfielders not moving. That will be the case and they probably want six players back at all time and let the four forwards to try to cause us a bit of mayhem.”
Midfielder David Beckham is quick to agree Keane's assessment of San Jose's tactics.
"They’ll have some kind of defensive mindset coming into the game because obviously they’ll be up 1-0, so they’ll be going into the game like that," said Beckham. "They’ll be cautious, but they’ll be aware of what we can do and our firepower and what we'll be coming there and trying to achieve."
With his movement on both sides of the ball and scoring touch, Keane is vital part of that firepower that Beckham mentions. Keane has had considerable success against the Earthquakes in the past, including scoring a goal during LA’s last trip to San Jose, a match that ended in a 2-2 draw.
However, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena admitted that while he expects San Jose to try to hold the result, how the Earthquakes line up at the opening whistle is of little concern to him because his club needs to put their chances away.
“I can’t spend too much time figuring out what they’re going to do. When they roll out the ball for the opening kickoff then that will get sorted out, regardless of what they do,” said Arena. “We need to win the game and we need to score a goal. We had those [scoring] opportunities the other night and fell short. Once again, we have the challenge of getting some goals to position them to fight back.”