LA Galaxy clinch playoff berth after scoreless draw with San Jose Earthquakes

October 21, 2013

Carson, Calif. -- Following an important mid-week victory over the Montreal Impact, the Los Angeles Galaxy faced an equally important game at home Sunday against San Jose. Unlike the game against Montreal, LA had stars Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Omar Gonzalez, and Jaime Penedo back on the field.  A.J. DeLaGarza and Robbie Rogers also made their way back into the 18.

The first ten minutes of the game had both teams playing hard defense and trying to maintain possession of the ball. In the 15th minute, San Jose almost scored the game’s first goal with a header from Sam Cronin on a free-kick. The attempt was wide of the far post.

Robbie Keane had the first scoring opportunity for LA in the 19th minute, but his shot from inside the 18-yard box was aimed directly at Jon Busch.  Keane was involved again in the 21st minute when he got away from San Jose’s Cronin with the ball and Cronin held onto Keane’s jersey, earning him a yellow card from head referee Baldomero Toldedo.

In the 24th minute, the Galaxy's rookie sensation, Gyasi Zardes, traveled half the field with the ball before getting a cross around two Earthquake defenders. Zardes’ cross was just inches over the head of Donovan.

However, San Jose was threatening as well in the 27th minute when a corner-kick found the head of Steven Lenhart. Lenhart, who is not well liked by Galaxy players and fans for his antics over the years, headed the ball accurately, but Penedo was able to make a diving save.

In the 36th minute, Keane and Donovan pressed the ball towards goal, allowing Michael Stephens a solid chance to score, but his shot went high above the top corner.

Penedo and the Galaxy defense proved critical again in the 41st minute when a Chris Wondolowski header and rebound were saved.

Both teams started the second half with a flurry of end-to-end action, including Victor Bernardez's shoving foul on Landon Donovan in the 54th minute that earned Bernardez a yellow card. The Galaxy could not create a scoring threat from the free-kick.

San Jose looked primed to score in the 63rd minute when they had a couple of shots on a broken play, but Penedo was ultimately able to secure the ball and get the Galaxy moving up the pitch.

In the 68th minute, Robbie Rogers substituted in for Michael Stephens, his first appearance since playing in Portland in July. Also, Omar Gonzalez subbed out in the 73rd minute as Leonardo took his spot.

The final minutes of the game nearly broke the scoring drought when the Earthquakes’ Shea Salinas had an opportunity on goal that the Galaxy defense snuffed out. The ball quickly moved up the field, producing numerous LA shots from Keane, Juninho, and others. However, still no score.

With their playoff lives in serious jeopardy, San Jose continued to attack for the goal that they desperately needed. Although for every San Jose shot there was a Galaxy player getting in front of the ball, leading to a final 0-0 draw.

The draw officially qualified the Galaxy for the 2013 MLS playoffs, their fifth consecutive playoff trip. LA is guaranteed of finishing no lower than fifth in the Western Conference, and is looking to become the first club in MLS history to win three straight championships.

The Galaxy are currently in third place in the Western Conference with a 15-11-7 record for 52 points.  Chivas USA, FC Dallas, and Vancouver have all been eliminated from playoff contention.

After playing their final group stage game in the CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday in El Salvador against Isidro Metapan, the Galaxy will play their final regular season game on Sunday, October 27, when they travel to Seattle.

By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for The Daily Sports Herald

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