The California Clásico didn't start as expected, but the Los Angeles Galaxy made sure it had an exciting end, playing almost 30 minutes reduced to 10 men before grabbing a 2-1 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center.
Jovan Kirovski gave the Galaxy the lead 56k | 384k) --%> late in the first half. After Ugo Ihemelu was sent off early in the second half, the Earthquakes pulled level through Ronald Cerritos. But Peter Vagenas scored 13 minutes from time to keep the Galaxy perfect on their home ground.
Neither team came out of the locker room looking to impress early on. In a game that was anticipated to be a hotly contested match between two bitter rivals, the expected level of intensity never really came to fruition until the tail end of the first half.
The first real roar from the crowd came in the 38th minute, when Paulo Nagamura intercepted a ball in midfield and tried to spring Landon Donovan on a breakaway. Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad reacted quickly to the play and beat Donovan to the ball, but his first touch fell right to Cobi Jones. The Galaxy vet tried to chip the opposing keeper, but his effort went well high, and San Jose maintained the shut out for a brief moment.
It was the 39th minute when the Galaxy finally broke through and took the lead. A clever series of passes between Donovan and Vagenas would eventually make its way to the boot of Kirovski. He set up his right foot and shot the ball from well outside the penalty area and it seemed to take a deflection, beating Onstad just inside the right post.
San Jose came out slightly more aggressively in the second half and managed to hold a bit more possession in the early going. Still, the patchwork lineup was giving up the ball to L.A. thanks in large part to careless passing and lack of communication.
The 63rd minute saw a change in the whole dynamic of the game when Ihemelu earned his second yellow card of the match. To compensate for the loss of a central defender, Galaxy coach Steve Sampson was forced to bring on Costa Rican international Michael Umaña in place of Kirovski.
It didn't take long for San Jose to capitalize on their man advantage, as six minutes later Cerritos equalized for the visitors. Mark Chung, the newest member of the Quakes, sent a cross to the near post where Cerritos was lurking to stab the ball home past Kevin Hartman inside the near post.
But at home, the Galaxy still looked for a winner, and it came in the 76th minute. Naldo da Conceicao, who had just entered the game only seconds before used his first touch of the game to pick out Vagenas with a cross. Vagenas made no mistake from the heart of the area, and his powerful header (56k | 384k) easily beat Onstad for his third goal of the season.
There was one final highlight in the first minute of stoppage time when Donovan added what the home crowd thought was the icing on the cake, cutting in from the left to collect a pass before rounding a defender and Onstad and pounding the ball into the goal. But during the ensuing celebration, the linesman stood tall with his flag in the air, ruling the play offside.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Peter Vagenas (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
San Jose Earthquakes (2-1-4) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (4-2-0)
May 21, 2005 -- The Home Depot Center
LA -- Jovan Kirovski 3 (Peter Vagenas 1, Landon Donovan 4) 39
SJ -- Ronald Cerritos 4 (Mark Chung 1, Dwayne De Rosario 3) 69
LA -- Peter Vagenas 3 (Ednaldo da Conceicao 1) 77
San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Ricardo Clark, Ryan Cochrane, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett, Ian Russell (Mark Chung 61), Dwayne De Rosario, Danny O'Rourke (Chris Aloisi 46), Brad Davis (Wes Hart 78), Alejandro Moreno, Ronald Cerritos.
Substitutes Not Used: Danny Califf, Jon Conway.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Ronald Cerritos 2, Mark Chung 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Ronald Cerritos 2); FOULS: 19 (Ryan Cochrane 3, Dwayne De Rosario 3); OFFSIDES: 5 (Ronald Cerritos 4); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Wade Barrett 1); SAVES: 2 (Pat Onstad 2)
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Cobi Jones (Pablo Chinchilla 80), Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Guillermo Ramirez (Ednaldo da Conceicao 77), Jovan Kirovski (Michael Umana 66), Landon Donovan.
Substitutes Not Used: Paul Broome, Mubarike Chisoni, Steve Cronin, Herculez Gomez, Ned Grabavoy, Joseph Ngwenya.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Jovan Kirovski 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 tied with 1); FOULS: 15 (Ugo Ihemelu 3, Peter Vagenas 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Landon Donovan 1, Tyrone Marshall 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Landon Donovan 1, Peter Vagenas 1); SAVES: 1 (Kevin Hartman 1)
SJ -- Danny O'Rourke (caution; Pushing, Holding) 20
LA -- Paulo Nagamura (caution; Reckless Foul) 22
SJ -- Ryan Cochrane (caution; Pushing, Holding) 28
LA -- Ugo Ihemelu (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
SJ -- Chris Aloisi (caution; Reckless Foul) 46
LA -- Ugo Ihemelu (caution; Reckless Foul) 63
LA -- Ugo Ihemelu (ejection; Second Caution) 63
Referee: Kevin Terry
Referee's Assistants: -Chris Strickland; Fabio Tovar
4th Official: Jair Marrufo
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.