Quakes rely on scrambling technique

After most matches, the talk in the locker room centers on "the goals." But following Saturday's match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Los Angeles Galaxy at Spartan Stadium, the talk focused on "the scramble."

More specifically, it was a massive goalmouth melee that saw the Quakes repel everything that the Galaxy could throw at them. It proved to be the turning point in a memorable 3-0 win for the home side.

With San Jose nursing a 1-0 lead in the second half, a corner kick in the 55th minute was headed back across goal by Michael Umana, and then the fun began. Goalkeeper Pat Onstad twice saved from Jovan Kirovski -- once with half his body inside the goal -- and another time from Todd Dunivant. An unknown Quakes defender stymied another Kirovski attempt before the San Jose defense could finally clear the ball for good.

The sequence, which involved a couple of kick saves from Onstad, took the Canadian back to his youth.

"It reminded my of the times I was playing street hockey with my friends," said Onstad. "The guys made some great blocks in front of me and it would have been pretty disappointing to be 1-1 at that point the way we had played."

For defender Kelly Gray, the scramble epitomized the effort by the Quakes.

"I think every guy on our team touched the ball in that sequence," said Gray. "That's just a great team effort getting that ball out of there."

The same could be said of the collective effort in defending Landon Donovan, who had some dangerous moments in his first match back in San Jose, but was otherwise held in check. Donovan had moved from wing to wing throughout the match, but no matter where he went, he found life difficult.

According to defender Eddie Robinson, the key was cutting off the service to his former teammate.

"I think we're so good on a small field at pressuring guys," said Robinson. "When guys can't get their head up to find Landon, he doesn't get touches on the ball. That's your best strategy, to not let him get touches on the ball."

And when strategy gets thrown out the window, a good scramble can work just as well.

Jeff Carlisle is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Majro League Soccer or its clubs.

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