SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes reconvened Tuesday with a new title as the 2012 MLS Supporters’ Shield winners and the same old criticisms concerning their physical style of play.
The Quakes had plenty of time to digest LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez’s stinging critiques after San Jose came back twice in the second half to forge a 2-2 tie on Sunday. Quakes defender Justin Morrow had a rebuttal prepared for the incendiary quotes of Gonzalez, who described the San Jose at various points in his post-game media session as “embarrassing,” “obnoxious” and “a bunch of jokes.”
“I’m not a guy that gets offended pretty easily, but I was offended by that,” Morrow said. “I take pride in our team – I think everyone does – and in the way we play. I thought by this time of the year – we didn’t have our best game, but I think we’ve shown that we’re a good team. So if he wants to give us the extra little motivation, I’m sure we’re going to see him again soon.”
Highlights: SJ 2, LA 2
With the Galaxy locked into the No. 4 spot among Western Conference teams, a win against fifth-place Vancouver in the West’s Knockout Round is the only thing preventing LA and San Jose from meeting in the Western Conference Semifinals.
San Jose coach Frank Yallop came to the defense of striker Steven Lenhart, who was matched up in a running battle against Gonzalez for much of the game, especially in the first half when the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year pretty much neutralized the Quakes’ attempts to play through the target forward. San Jose had just two shots in the first 45 minutes, to LA’s 11.
Gonzalez said Sunday, “It all starts when the ball's on the other side of the field, and you're just running and all of a sudden you get blindsided. You just get checked by Lenhart or something. It's just dumb [expletive] like that happens every time, and that's not the way the game should be played.”
Replied Yallop on Tuesday: “The league have not phoned us once about Steven Lenhart [and] off-the-ball incidents. And they watch every second of every frame of every game. They haven’t had any problem with it. If he’s playing within the rules, which he is, it’s up to the players to get on with it and the referees to call if they think it’s a foul.”
Part of Gonzalez’s anger may have stemmed from the fact that San Jose’s comebacks to force a tie represent the continuation of a maddening trend. The Galaxy let two-goal advantages slip through their fingers in each of their two earlier matches this season against the Quakes, who went on to win both times.
“You’re never happy with anything that doesn’t quite go your way,” San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski noted. “That’s his opinion. That’s what he thinks. It doesn’t bother us.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.