STANFORD, Calif. – There was no Goonie magic to be found this time around at Stanford Stadium as the LA Galaxy continued their climb out of the Western Conference cellar Saturday night thanks to Gyasi Zardes’ second half goal lifted the Galaxy past the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0.
The game’s lone goal came just after the hour mark, when Marcelo Sarvas teed up Zardes at the penalty spot to bang in his third goal of the season. With the win, LA are unbeaten in their last five MLS matches (thrre wins, two draws) and climb into a tie with sixth place Portland. San Jose remain in eighth in the Western Conference.
The match was everything you’d want in a California Clasico: perfect weather, a boisterous crowd of 50,006 on hand, and a couple of teams needing a win to earn their way back into playoff contention. LA and San Jose began the night several points shy of the last playoff spot in the West, and both had spent the week getting bounced out of U.S. Open Cup competition.
Both teams came into the contest shorthanded. LA’s Omar Gonzalez and San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski are still busy in Brazil with the US men's national team, and the Earthquakes were also without three other starters: Victor Bernardez, recovering from World Cup duty for Honduras, Clarence Goodson, who was a late scratch after suffering a groin strain during warmups, and their leading assist man Shea Salinas, out with a lower abdominal muscle issue.
Under a cloudless California sky, the two sides played a scoreless first half. San Jose came close to threatening off a couple set pieces, but Steven Lenhart’s headers missed wide both times. LA’s Jaime Penedo was not required to make a save in the opening half. At the other end, San Jose’s Jon Busch was only called upon to make a couple easy catches of Robbie Keane’s shots to keep the game level.
San Jose started the second half a bit brighter, but Cordell Cato missed high and wide just a few minutes after intermission. After LA took the lead through Zardes’ goal, the Galaxy almost doubled their lead but Stefan Ishizaki’s long-range effort was denied by the left upright.
With a quarter hour left in the match and down a goal, San Jose replaced midfielder Yannick Djalo and defender Brandon Barklage with forwards Mike Fucito and Alan Gordon, and started pushing bodies up the pitch. LA brought on fresh legs as well, with Juninho replacing Sarvas in midfield.
In the corresponding fixture the past two seasons, San Jose has thrilled the massive home crowds by overcoming two-goal deficits to win in the game’s dying moments, but it was not to be this time around. With less than three minutes left in regulation, San Jose almost found an equalizer off a free kick, but Penedo did well to parry Lenhart's header over the crossbar.
The Galaxy next return home to host Portland on the 4th of July. For San Jose, their three-game home stand continues with a Wednesday night match against Chivas USA at Buck Shaw Stadium.