A Bryan Jordan goal in the 76th minute lifted the LA Galaxy to a 1-1 tie with the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Jordan, a second-half substitute, headed home Landon Donovan's cross for the equalizer, after Pablo Campos' fifth minute goal had given San Jose the lead.
The Los Angeles-San Jose rivalry is among the most heated matchups in MLS, and both teams were pushing forward from the opening whistle.
The Galaxy, missing both Gregg Berhalter and Alan Gordon due to red cards picked up last week against Chivas USA, came out in a 3-5-2 formation as they looked to neutralize San Jose's strength in midfield.
But that backline was exploited as the Earthquakes struck first when Chris Leitch chipped a long ball out of the back that found Campos running free up the middle of the field. Donovan Ricketts came off his line to cut the angle, but Campos calmly tucked a low shot from inside the arc that slipped past the LA goalkeeper to give San Jose the advantage just five minutes into the match.
LA had a chance to answer in the eighth minute, when Landon Donovan had the ball and some space at the right top corner of the penalty area. Donovan played a chip to Jovan Kirovski making a far post run, but Kirovski's sliding effort sailed high.
Four minutes later, Donovan took it himself, dribbling through the San Jose defense only to be stopped when Earthquakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon came out to meet him just left of the penalty spot.
In the 18th minute, Ricketts had to scramble to keep San Jose from doubling their lead. Pablo Campos slipped a pass to Arturo Alvarez breaking into the penalty area from the right side. Alvarez was one-on-one against Ricketts, and dribbled around the LA goalkeeper near the touch line only to have Ricketts recover to stretch and knock the ball away.
On the resulting corner kick, Alvarez found Pablo Campos inside the six-yard box for a header that forced Ricketts to get down to slap the shot away.
In the 37th minute, Bobby Convey sprung Eric Denton down the left wing for San Jose, and Denton's cross to the far post found Ryan Johnson for a point-blank header that Ricketts was in the right spot to stop.
LA's chances late in the first half couldn't find the target. Dema Kovalenko blasted a 25-yarder in the 40th minute, but missed wide left. In the 43rd minute, Eddie Lewis hooked in a cross from the left wing for Omar Gonzalez crashing the box, but Gonzalez's header from the penalty spot also missed wide left.
The second half started as the first half ended, with LA trying to press forward, while working hard on the defensive end to keep the game from getting away.
In the 49th minute, a Lewis free kick from 30 yards was an easy save for Joe Cannon. A minute later, Ricketts had to come sliding out beyond the penalty area to knock away a through ball meant for Campos.
In the 56th minute, Jordan came on for Mike Magee, and proved to be a key man in the LA attack the rest of the way.
In the 70th minute, Landon Donovan chased down a pass in the right wing corner and half-volleyed a cross to Jordan inside the six-yard box. Jordan took a boot in the face as he slid to try and knock it home, his shot skittering wide right.
LA finally got their equalizer after San Jose failed to clear a corner kick in the 76th minute. Kovalenko played the ball to Donovan on the right wing, and he sent in a cross with his left foot that reached Jordan at the edge of the six-yard box for a snap header that beat Joe Cannon cleanly inside the right post.
In the 79th minute, defender Todd Dunivant came on for forward Jovan Kirovski as LA looked to get of town with at least a point.
They almost got the game winner just two minutes from time, when Donovan carried the ball up the left wing and angled in on goal. But Donovan's shot from 20 yards was blocked by the San Jose defense.
While still looking for their first win of 2009, LA should be satisfied with a well-earned point on the road. Now 0-2-2, the Galaxy will go on the road to face Colorado next Saturday.
Pete Ratajczak is a contributor to MLSnet.com.