STANFORD, Calif. – Jelle Van Damme could not contain his frustration after the LA Galaxy’s defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes.
The Galaxy’s captain scored the first goal of his tenure with the club on Saturday, but it ultimately, wasn’t enough as San Jose scored two unanswered goals to win 2-1 in another thrilling and wild match at Stanford Stadium. The game went from bad to worse postgame as Van Damme was awarded his second yellow card by referee Allen Chapman for arguing for a clear handball that occurred before San Jose’s stoppage time winner.
Now suspended for Los Angeles’ July 4 fixture with Real Salt Lake, Van Damme was blunt and honest with his assessment of the match.
“It was a reaction after the game. It was quite frustrating when you work your [butts] off to earn a result and then at one point in the game, the referee decides to play every ball in the advantage of San Jose,” Van Damme said. “We had a clear handball from [San Jose defender Victor Bernardez] when I hit the ball back inside [late in the second half], and he was doing nothing. That was the third handball during the game, so after the game, I just lost [it].
“I know that I shouldn’t have done it, but it’s hard when you work your [butt] off for 90 minutes, and then you play 12 against 11. I just told him that he screwed us over, then he gave my second yellow and the red card. That’s his call. I apologize to the team for the red card, not to the referees. He screwed us over.”
The bitter ending took the shine off what should have been a celebratory game for Van Damme who opened his account for the Galaxy in the 11th minute. After smashing a Jose Villarreal free kick into the back of the net, Van Damme’s relief and joy were apparent as he rushed to celebrate with the Galaxy bench before motioning to the team’s traveling supporters seated high up in the Stanford Stadium bleachers.
Ultimately, however, the goal won’t be how Van Damme remembers the match.
“Of course, it's a Clásico, but that's not the thing. I just want to win games, and okay, it's a rivalry game. I'm very happy to score my first goal in this game, and that's why I just got so frustrated because we were doing well,” he said. “It's just frustrating to see, as I said before, we worked our [butts] off for 90 minutes and number 12 steps up and decides the game with his calls.”
Galaxy boss Curt Onalfo agreed with his captain postgame admitting that “it was a night where we got very few calls” but said that it was “no excuse for not closing out the game.” Despite all the frustration and angst after such a heartbreaking defeat, Van Damme was quick to laud his squad for the fight that they showed in San Jose despite 12 absences due to injuries, suspensions and international call-ups.
“The guys did well. We played with a very young, inexperienced team today. We missed like 10 players and seven or eight of those players, or maybe all 10 of those players, should be starting. That's why it's frustrating,” Van Damme said. “With this young inexperienced team, we come here to play. We did well. We managed well. We get a pretty easy first game. The counter-break, I think it should never happen. But hey, at the end you defend and you work your [butt] off to get at least a point, to get out of here with a point and the referee decided to step it up and decide the game.”