Carson, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Galaxy played to a 1-1 draw against the Earthquakes Sunday afternoon at StubHub Center in front of a sold-out crowd of 27,167, as San Jose's Fatai Alashe evened things with a late goal in the 87th minute. The Galaxy are now unbeaten in nine-straight games.
“I think we were four minutes away from what we wanted which was three points and that clean sheet we spoke about during the week," said the Galaxy's Steven Gerrard. "But by no means did we play to our standards. I thought we were average early and lacked a bit of energy and a bit of creativity in the final third. But I thought it was a fair result.”
The Galaxy entered the game in fifth place in the Western Conference, with San Jose just one point behind them. The Galaxy started off like a fifth place team too, failing to come out in the first half with their usual stuff, while the Earthquakes played like the more desperate team.
The story of the first half was the scoring opportunities presented to San Jose's Chris Wondolowski.
The first chance came in the 14th minute when a cross was sent to Wondolowski, who then shot it from the top of the 6-yard box straight to Brian Rowe, the Galaxy's goalkeeper. Rowe, who has the highest save percentage in MLS (76.9%) and holds the third lowest GAA (1.03) in the league, made the save.
Then in the 38th minute, after Daniel Steres gave the ball up in the defense, Wondolowski had the ball at his feet and was going towards goal from the wing with only Rowe in front of him. The shot went over Rowe and hit the crossbar to keep the game scoreless.
However, his best chance was in stoppage time when a cross went over Ashley Cole's head and landed at Wondolowski's feet about 8 yards away from goal. Wondolowski faked out Cole, leaving him diving on the ground, and then had a clear left-footed shot, but he sailed it over the goal and into the crowd.
"The Galaxy are a good team, credit to them, but I am frustrated at myself, I thought I should have finished as I had some good looks," said Wondolowski. "Unlucky on the cross, I thought I could get that, and then the one off the crossbar, a bit unlucky there, but they had their chances as well so it is hard to say we should have come out with three points."
In the second half, LA was a different team, as their activity and scoring chances increased. In the 72nd minute, Gyasi Zardes headed down a crossed ball to Giovani dos Santos' feet for a hard-driving shot that beat goalkeeper David Bingham, but ricocheted off the crossbar.
In the 78th minute, Zardes was again creating great chances for his teammates when he headed the ball behind himself to a streaking Robbie Keane. Keane kept the shot low, but Bingham was able to get down and save it in time.
"Keane breaks through, it was one on one, so I wanted to have a good angle and stay on my feet, if you beat me you beat me, but I was able to get a hand on it and pull it out," said Bingham of the play.
The Galaxy kept striving for a goal with shots from dos Santos and Keane, but it was San Jose that gave LA their goal in the 83rd minute when Robbie Rogers sent a through ball to Sebastian Lletget, who crossed it into the box for Zardes. Gyasi didn't get a chance to score on the pass because Marvell Wynne deflected the ball into his own goal trying to stop the cross.
“We were a bit lethargic," said the Galaxy's Mike Magee. "We kept mentioning to each other that we need to play with more energy. I think it came on late. Sebastian [Lletget] came on and made a great play for us.”
LA finally had their goal for a 1-0 lead, but that wouldn't last long as the Earthquakes earned a draw in the 87th minute when Chad Barrett assisted with a cross to Fatai Alashe, who headed the ball into the goal past the Galaxy defense.
"Lost our concentration a little bit and number 27 [Alashe] scored and ran past three of our players," said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena of the late Earthquakes' goal. "At that point in the game, we’re tired. We’ve got to concentrate and just take the three points and get out of here."
In their next match, the Galaxy will travel internationally for an away game against the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
“Winning second balls, you can’t go on the road and not outcompete the team," said the Galaxy's Rogers of the upcoming Montreal game. "Sometimes you can get away with it at home, even though it’s rare, sometimes you can and we almost did tonight. But going on the road we are going to have to outcompete Montreal and turn it around.”
By Brian Kowalski
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com