STANFORD, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes took the LA Galaxy’s best punch on Saturday – and responded with a knockout of their own.
Down 3-1 just before halftime after conceding three goals in 10 minutes, the Quakes stormed back with their own trifecta of goals – the clincher a mindbending side-foot job by MLS leading scorer Chris Wondolowski – to deliver a pulsating 4-3 victory over the Galaxy in front of a packed house at Stanford Stadium.
San Jose (11-3-3) extended their winning streak to three straight matches in MLS play and improved their hold on the Supporters’ Shield lead, moving three points clear of D.C. United, who took over second place from Real Salt Lake.
Through 41 minutes, the Galaxy (6-9-2) looked like they would walk off with their fourth consecutive victory thanks to goals from David Beckham and Landon Donovan sandwiched around an own-goal by Quakes defender Jason Hernandez.
But Víctor Bernárdez scored his first MLS goal in the 44th minute to give San Jose hope, and Sam Cronin provided an equalizer just two minutes after halftime.
HIGHLIGHTS: SJ 4, LA 3
That set the stage for Wondolowski, who broke away from his marker, LA defender A.J. DeLaGarza, and deftly redirected Ramiro Corrales' flick on from a Marvin Chávez corner kick in the 61st minute.
However, the sellout crowd couldn’t celebrate until San Jose withstood a final push from the Galaxy.
Second-year goalkeeper David Bingham, called upon at the half after starter Jon Busch suffered a swollen left eye in an early collision with Bernárdez, came up with a huge parry in the 74th minute after Beckham burst alone into the Quakes’ penalty area.
San Jose left back Justin Morrow walled off Chad Barrett and smothered a rebound attempt by David Júnior Lopes in the 85th to snuff out the Galaxy’s last best chance.
Lenhart had put the Quakes up in the seventh minute, tapping home a Chávez drive that Saunders could only parry with his right hand, but after early pressure from the Quakes, LA responded magnificently.
Beckham, playing his first match since being omitted from the British Olympic team, ginned up a world-class response to that snub in the 31st minute after Magee was pulled down by Chávez 21 yards from the Quakes goal. A flat-footed Busch could only watch Beckham’s masterfully struck free kick sail into the upper corner at the near post.
Not long after, Hernandez tried to clear Hector Jimenez's dangerous cross in the 36th minute, but instead knocked it past the helpless Busch to hand the Galaxy the lead.
Donovan then put the Galaxy in the driver’s seat with his 41st-minute score, a clinical finish to make San Jose pay for a bad defensive gaffe.
With the Quakes put under pressure by a probing Beckham delivery, Hernandez sent a back pass to Busch -- only to see it intercepted by Mike Magee inside San Jose’s six-yard box. With his back to the goal, Magee fed a square pass to Jimenez, who found Donovan wide-open for his sixth goal this season, and fourth in the last three matches.
Bernárdez pulled the Quakes back from a 3-1 hole with a critical goal just before the half, making a near-post run to meet Chávez’s corner kick with a good dose of malice, beating Saunders to the far side.
Cronin pulled San Jose even after a wild first half, outracing LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders to a nearly 50-yard pass from Steven Beitashour that skipped through the Galaxy defense. Cronin’s sliding touch from 15 yards was enough to beat the onrushing Saunders.
LA went unchanged from the lineup that pasted Vancouver 3-0 a week earlier, featuring the dangerous Designated Player pairing of Donovan and Keane up top.
San Jose, having to do without injured Simon Dawkins, once again moved up captain Ramiro Corrales to left midfield. Rafael Baca, who rested last weekend in order to start against Seattle in a US Open Cup quarterfinal this past Tuesday, returned as the Quakes’ center-of-the-park maestro.
San Jose will return to action on June 3 when they travel to Portland, while LA host the Philadelphia Union on July 4.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Marvin Chávez||"Son of the wind" indeed. The speedy winger caused havoc all came long and his delivery from corners proved clutch in San Jose's comeback.|
|2||Steven Lenhart||Big striker put LA defense on alert all of the 68 minutes he was on the field, poking home the first and getting a hand in Cronin's equalizer with a smart dummy.|
|3||Mike Magee||One of LA's most consistently active players, made great pass to Jimenez in lead-up to own goal, assisted on Donovan's goal as well.|