Playoff Preview: California Clasico second leg

Quakes offer their insight into Wednesday's playoff second leg against the LA Galaxy

The 2012 Supporters' Shield champions will host their California Clasico rival, the LA Galaxy, at Buck Shaw Stadium in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinal, presented by Kaiser Permanente, on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. The match will be televised live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

Wednesday's match will mark the fifth encounter between the two sides this season; the Quakes are 3-0-1 against the LA Galaxy after the first four matches. The Quakes bested the LA Galaxy on Sunday night's first leg at The Home Depot Center in true "Goonies-Never-Say-Die" fashion. Victor Bernardez blasted home a free kick in the 94th minute after Simon Dawkins got fouled to give the Quakes the 1-0 win.

Quakes players and coaches offered their insights about training and tomorrow's second leg match.

Question: What were your feelings in the locker room after the first leg?

Jon Busch: It is only halftime of the series. We only did step one of the work. It could all be for not if we don’t get it done tomorrow. You can’t celebrate it.

Question: Looking ahead to tomorrow’s match against the LA Galaxy, how do you prepare for what’s coming?

JB: We know they have a lot of dangerous weapons. We know that they will come after us in the first 15 to 20 minutes.  We have to deal with that pressure and settle into our rhythm. If we can get past those first 15 minutes, we know we will be in good shape.

Chris Wondolowski: We can’t think that we have a lead. It’s only halftime. We are going to pick and chose our spots to get after them. We want to stay organized but we also think that the Galaxy will leave some gaps open that we can get at them, especially on the counter attack.

Frank Yallop: We set our game plan to attack them in the first game. For most of the game, both offenses didn’t really get going. Robbie Keane hit the bar late. There were a bunch of half chances. I don’t know if we know how to sit back. We are going to go out and play our normal game. We also know that LA needs to score.

Victor Bernardez: They have a lot of stars and we have a lot of workers. There are no stars on our team; we work hard for all the results we gain. It’s very motivating for me to play a team full of stars. I used to watch a team like that on television and now it’s very motivating for me to play them. It makes me want to play better against them.

We have to be a unified group and be concentrated and focused. We have to stay concentrated on their team and not lose our marks because of how well they play.

Question: How do you explain the 10 stoppage time goals that this team has scored this year?

CW: It comes from a lot of hard work. We worked tirelessly in the preseason. These guys are very fit and ready to go. Our guys love to work hard for each other. If a team sits in and invites pressure, we will make them pay for it.

Question: You haven’t lost since August of last year at Buck Shaw Stadium; how much confidence does that give you?

CW: LA is going to give it their all so we are just looking for the win.

Steven Lenhart: I have a lot of confidence. We have done really well here and the fans are really supportive. I think the preparation has been key and I don’t think that these results are coming by chance.

Question: How important was getting the clean sheet against the LA Galaxy?

Jason Hernandez: Anytime you face a quality opponent, your objective is to get a shutout from a defensive standpoint.  In the playoffs, anything can happen and the stakes are a little higher. We are pleased to get the shutout but one game will not complete the job. We are looking to follow it up with

Question: Can you talk about Simon Dawkins’ contribution on the first leg?

SL: Simon’s a great player. He is strong on the ball and very confident. Simon has the ability to go at guys. I thought he did a really good job of holding the ball and going at LA. He helps us big time.

JH: When you see Simon, you see a very quality player who can succeed at many parts of the game. He can control the tempo of the match. When he’s on the ball, it’s very tough to get him off of it. As you saw in the last match, he has a very calming presence. You will see more of that in the next match.

FY: I always thought that it’s good for a player to go into arena where they are not comfortable and then to play well. I was very happy with Simon and with Shea [Salinas]. Shea’s performance was excellent and Simon’s was too. I believe that they feel that they can go on the pitch and contribute.  Simon feels a lot better and it was good that he got through it comfortably.  

Question: How do you expect the Galaxy to play?

FY: I don’t think that they will do anything different. I don’t think many teams set up to defend from the start of the game. If you do that, you are asking for trouble. We are in the same position. We are looking to play the same as we have all year and are trying to win. To try to protect the lead would not be good for us and, if the Galaxy were in that position, it wouldn’t be good for them.

We are going to play the way we play. If an early goal comes, that’s great. We also have to make sure that we don’t concede an early goal. We have played them enough now that we know they have some very dangerous players.

The LA Galaxy are very experienced. They went through this before last year. I was very proud of how we played in the first leg and how we didn’t panic. We got the goal at the end even though a nil-nil result would’ve been great.

With this group, we will be ready. We won’t freeze. Playing against the champions does make it difficult but it will be a feather in our cap if we do it.