SAN JOSE, Calif. -- What Avaya Stadium’s first California Clasico lacked in goals, it made up for in angry passion.
Shea Salinas’ rebound header gave the San Jose Earthquakes an early lead, and Leonardo’s controversial red card two minutes into the second half helped the Quakes hang on for a 1-0 victory against LA Galaxy on Friday night.
It was a fourth straight shutout win for the surging Quakes (11-10-5), who are over .500 for the first time since May and suddenly sit tied for fifth in the Western Conference after suffering through a winless July.
The Galaxy (13-8-7) saw their four-game winning streak snapped, and missed a chance to extend their lead atop the Supporters’ Shield standings.
The longstanding rivals averaged a combined 3.62 goals per game in 13 previous Cali Clasicos dating to 2012, but this edition played out according to the game plan for the hosts, who have now allowed a league-low six goals in 11 home matches. San Jose extended their shutout streak to a league-best 374 minutes by stymieing LA’s 49-goal attack.
After a cagey opening stanza, the Quakes’ goal-scoring sequence began in the 18th minute when Marvell Wynne corralled a blocked cross and recycled a left-footed inswinger from the right wing. Quincy Amarikwa outjumped Gyasi Zardes deep inside the LA area to deliver a strong attempt which Donovan Ricketts did well to save. But Salinas slipped away from Omar Gonzalez to nod in the free rebound. The 29-year-old winger has three goals this year -- a career best -- and notched goals in back-to-back games for the first time since October 2008, at the close of his rookie MLS season.
Chris Wondolowski nearly doubled San Jose’s lead in the 38th minute, off another chance created from a Wynne cross. This one was delivered with his right foot, and looped over a scrum in the middle for a diving Wondolowski to find at the back post. His header appeared to have Ricketts beat, but it crashed off the post just as Wondolowski was pinballing off of Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza. The collision left the Quakes’ captain down on the field for several seconds before getting up under his own power.
The Galaxy trailed 1-0 at the half in their previous road game, against FC Dallas on Aug. 15, but stormed back early in the second period behind two goals from Robbie Keane. But LA’s captain -- who ripped the Quakes for a hat trick in the Galaxy’s 5-2 home win last month -- was the focus of San Jose’s defensive attention all night, and rarely got the ball with his momentum going forward.
Whatever halftime adjustments LA coach Bruce Arena might have cooked up went by the wayside in the 47th minute, when Leonardo appeared to tug down Amarikwa as the Quakes forward threatened to get by him in pursuit of a long pass over the top. There was ample room for argument that Gonzalez’s looming presence off Amarikwa’s left shoulder negated any denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity infraction, but after consultation with assistant Jeff Hosking, referee Jose Carlos Rivero dismissed the Brazilian despite Keane's considerable protestations.
San Jose didn’t do much with the man advantage, however, and the Galaxy still applied significant pressure in the final 15 minutes after forward Alan Gordon -- a famed figure on both sides of this rivalry -- came on. Gonzalez’s back-post header across the goalmouth in the 87th minute forced David Bingham to make a swat off his line, and Steven Gerrard’s 40-yard free kick in the first minute of stoppage time came perilously close to sneaking in at the post.