CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan’s three-month farewell tour opened Friday night at StubHub Center, and it looked an awful lot like the LA Galaxy’s past two outings – except the San Jose Earthquakes refused to back down.
The Galaxy dictated terms from start to finish, created repeated scoring opportunities while barely giving their California Clasico rivals a sniff at the net, and settled for a 2-2 draw after conceding twice on first-half counterattacks.
Gyasi Zardes scored his ninth goal of the season to pull LA (9-4-7) back from one deficit and Omar Gonzalez nodded home a corner kick at the start of the second half to divide the points with San Jose (6-8-6).
Chris Wondolowski netted his eighth goal of the year for the Quakes, and newly signed Designated Player Matias Perez Garcia scored on his debut as they pushed a point ahead of Chivas USA at the bottom of the Western Conference.
The Galaxy, who climbed alone into third place in the West, a point ahead of FC Dallas, found success through Donovan, who announced Thursday he will retire at season’s end. The veteran set up LA’s first goal with a long run and nearly netted a winner in the 52nd minute.
San Jose scored on both of their first-half chances, going ahead twice against the run of play in the first 31 minutes. The Galaxy enjoyed nearly constant possession – 72.5 percent in the first half, repeatedly connecting a dozen passes and more – but left ample space in their half of the field that the Quakes worked to exploit.
They counterattacked effectively twice in the first 45 minutes, and both resulted in goals.
The Galaxy created nearly a dozen good first-half chances, and outshot the Earthquakes, 10-2, but saw six of those shots blocked and put only two on frame. One of those was Zardes’ strike in the 29th minute, his ninth goal of the year, sixth in as many games, eighth in nine games, and 11th in his last 13 starts, all competitions.
Donovan set it up with a long run through gaping space, then feeding Robbie Keane on the left. The Irish striker took the ball into the box and fired, and it bounded off Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi and dropped to Zardes, who slotted it between two defenders and past goalkeeper Jon Busch.
San Jose went ahead again within two minutes, thanks to Perez Garcia. Atiba Harris took a pass from Shea Salinas, carried it forward and sent a ball toward the top of the Galaxy box. Wondolowski redirected it with the back of his heel, and the debutant cracked it first time with his left foot, a rocket that went off Jaime Penedo and into the ceiling of the net.
The Galaxy continued their domination in the second half – they finished with a 24-3 shot advantage, took 10 corner kicks (to none for San Jose) and held 69.8 percent possession – and the Quakes’ advantage was gone just four minutes after the break. Gonzalez lost Harris on his run above the 6-yard box to head down Stefan Ishizaki’s corner kick, bouncing it between Busch and Salinas, who was hugging the right post.
The Galaxy open a two-game road swing on August 16 at Columbus, with a game the following weekend at Colorado. The Earthquakes next are home that same Saturday against FC Dallas.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Chris Wondolowski (SJ)||Slick tight-angle finish and insane backheel to set up Perez Garcia – Wondo's on a post-World Cup tear.|
|2||Gyasi Zardes (LA)||Heads-up put-back for LA's first, and continues to prove he is the target man Galaxy have been pining for.|
|3||Jason Hernandez (SJ)||Continues to come up huge in Clarence Goodson's absence, with three key blocks in the box.|