Earthquakes Earn 2-2 Draw With GalaxySan Jose wins Supporters’ Shield despite draw with Galaxy
by Luke James | Monday, October 22, 2012
It’s almost as if the San Jose Earthquakes need something to overcome in order to play their best soccer, as Sunday night's 2-2 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy was no easy feat for the Quakes.
They certainly must have gone into the Galaxy affair feeling on top of the world. And to be honest, it showed in a lackluster first half performance.
But let’s first set the context.
On Saturday, Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 tie with the New York Red Bulls handed this season’s Supporters’ Shield to the Earthquakes, who are 19-6-8, with 65 points and one game to play. This is the second time the Quakes have won the Shield, they last won it in 2005, and it gives them home field advantage throughout the upcoming MLS Cup playoffs.
And, most importantly, of the 16 teams that’ve won the Supporters’ Shield, six have gone on to win the MLS Cup.
Add to this the fact that today work finally began on San Jose’s new stadium. Before today’s game, Earthquakes fans set a Guinness World Record for the biggest participatory groundbreaking for a stadium. The final count was 6,256 participants, smashing the previous 4,532 record set in Jaipur, India. The new privately financed 18,000 seat stadium is set to open in 2014.
With the addition of San Jose’s new stadium there are now two teams left in MLS that need soccer specific stadiums: New England Revolution and DC United. It’s also worth noting the significance of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium being built soccer compliant.
So, Supporters’ Shield winners, home field advantage in the playoffs and a new stadium. Were these the reasons San Jose played the first half without the team’s usual hungry edge?
Even without David Beckham and Landon Donovan, the Galaxy had obviously come looking to play attacking soccer, with striker Robbie Keane looking particularly sharp.
San Jose were contained in the midfield, and spent a fair amount of the first half pressed back in defense. For the most part, the Earthquakes were confined to occasional ineffective long balls through the middle.
Having said that, the defense looked solid with San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch charging fearlessly off his line to close down angles and deny LA the lead.
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at halftime. Whatever head coach Frank Yallop said in the dressing room worked, because San Jose came charging out of the gate, playing down the wings and immediately threatening the Galaxy goal.
Chris Wondolowski hit the post twice in successive plays in the 49th minute. A minute later, in a bizarre goalmouth scramble, the ball remained wedged in a tangle of boots and legs and when it was eventually cleared, it fell to Steven Beitashour, who blasted it straight into the goalkeeper Josh Saunders’ arms.
But it was Galaxy captain Robbie Keane who pounced on a deflected ball in the 59th minute to sweep it into the net for the Irish international’s 16th Galaxy goal of the season.
Finally, the Earthquakes had something to fight back against, and it only took them two minutes to equalize. Steven Lenhart won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Marvin Chavez side footed the kick over the wall, sending in a superbly flighted ball that curved away from a diving Sauders to find the corner of the net.
Bend it like Chavez.
San Jose pressed for the lead playing some fine possession, but it was Edson Buddle who put the Galaxy back in front in the 69th minute, heading home a Sean Franklin cross for his third goal of the season.
Cue another late equalizer from San Jose. On a corner kick in the 73rd minute, Wondolowski pulled free of a defender in a congested box to power in a lunging header for his 26th of the season.
The game ended tied at 2-2.
MLS goal scoring record holder Roy Lassiter was at the game and declared he would be very happy to see Wondo beat his record. I asked him, if he was in Wondolowski’s position right now, what would he be asking the guys on the team to do to help him?
His eyes lit up, he smiled and said, “Give me the ball! But I’ve chatted with Wondo and he’s so genuine he just wants to do it for the team. I didn’t have a goal to shoot for but I always wanted to get it done for my team and that’s what he’s doing.”
Wondolowski will have one more game and needs two more goals to beat Roy Lassiter’s 16-year-old MLS record for a single season.
UP NEXT: Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers, Saturday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. EST on TSN2, NBC Sports.