Disorganized Quakes await rematch
The San Jose Earthquakes' rise to the top of the Western Conference standings has been built on a defense that prides itself on playing as a unit; always providing cover in case a teammate gets beaten.
Several times in the first half of their 2-1 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday, the Quakes violated that rule, allowing the Galaxy's Herculez Gomez to get matched up against a lone Quakes defender. The speedy Los Angeles forward duly punished the home side on two occasions, and it proved to be the difference in the match.
"We made two mistakes, and they got two goals," said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. "Sometimes when you make mistakes in your own half against good teams, it comes back to you get you, and that's what happened tonight."
The Quakes, aided by the 63rd minute ejection of Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant, dominated the second half and managed to crawl back within one goal when Ronald Cerritos scored in the 76th minute. But the hole that San Jose dug for themselves proved too great.
"I told the guys in the locker room that the way we played in the second half is the way we should play approach the game on Saturday [also against Los Angeles]," added Kinnear. "Against good teams that are playing with confidence, you've got to give everything you've got rather than work your way into the game."
Kinnear was referring to the opening 30 minutes that saw Gomez easily finding space along the Quakes' back line, often catching the defenders spread out rather than staying compact.
"It was a bit irresponsible and we got punished for it," added Kinnear.
With Landon Donovan unavailable after playing with the MLS Select Team in Madrid on Tuesday, much of the Galaxy offense went through Gomez, who was making his first ever appearance against the Quakes. But the San Jose players insisted that they weren't surprised by the L.A. forward's speed, instead focusing on their own disorganization.
"We let things get a little bit out of control in the first half," said captain Wade Barrett. "I think on the outside [our fullbacks] were pushed a little bit too far out and that left some holes in the middle."
Wednesday's match was a chippy affair, typical of games in this rivalry. A total of eight yellow cards to seven different players were handed out by referee Terry Vaughn. And that emotion is bound to carry over into Saturday's league match between the same two teams. But any thought that the Galaxy gained any psychological advantage was dismissed by Kinnear.
"This game, it doesn't matter who one or who lost," he said. "Saturday's game is totally different. Emotions were running high and I hope they do [carry over]. It makes for a more competitive game."
And defensively for the Quakes, hopefully a more organized one.
Jeff Carlisle is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.