CUT DOWN ON SAN JOSE SET PIECE OPPORTUNTIES
The LA Galaxy have controlled wide stretches of their meetings with the San Jose Earthquakes this season, but time and time again, it has been their play on set pieces that have proved the difference between victory and defeat.
San Jose has proved clinical on set pieces this year against the Galaxy with their last four goals against LA coming off either free kicks or corners since San Jose’s 4-3 victory over the Galaxy in late June. In the first leg, the Galaxy defense was organized on the ‘Quakes dead ball chances, but ultimately, San Jose broke through on Victor Bernárdez’s freekick goal in stoppage time.
For LA to advance to the Western Conference Championship and earn their first win over San Jose this year, they cannot allow fouls in dangerous positions for San Jose’s set piece takers and remain structured along the backline.
PUT PRESSURE ON SAN JOSE DEFENSE
During the LA Galaxy’s three regular season meetings with the Earthquakes, scoring chances and goals were not a problem as LA racked up seven goals on the ‘Quakes—the most San Jose have allowed to any team this year—, but in the Western Conference Semifinal First Leg, LA struggled to find the back of the net.
In the second leg, expect the Galaxy to follow a similar script from Sunday’s match as they look to control the tempo and put pressure on the San Jose back four. This approach had some success on Sunday as Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan repeatedly got in behind San Jose’s center back tandem of Bernárdez and Jason Hernandez.
In the decisive second leg, the battle between Keane and Bernárdez is one to watch as the Irish forward will look to exploit the burly Honduran, who displayed a tendency for mental lapses and positioning mistakes in the first leg.
RISE TO THE OCCASION
The LA Galaxy are an experienced club that has gone through the playoff wars in the past three years and against the San Jose Earthquakes, the Galaxy will need every bit of their guile to advance.
The statistics are not in LA’s favor as just two clubs have ever come back from a loss at home in a Conference Semifinal home leg to win the series. Down 1-0 heading into the second leg, LA must come out and press the Earthquakes from the outset, but also remain organized in the back as San Jose will likely look to use their speed on the flanks to attack the Galaxy on the counter.
But all tactics aside, the leadership of the Galaxy’s veteran guard of David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, and Todd Dunivant among others will be vital as LA look to erase their deficit and advance.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com