SAN JOSE, Calif. - Shea Salinas, who scored the goal to beat the LA Galaxy Friday night, is a rarity in soccer because he can run by the sprinters and outlast the marathoners.
Occasionally, he can be the hero too.
- HIGHLIGHTS: Quakes 1, Galaxy 0
Salinas became the toast of the town -- make that Avaya Stadium -- with a header goal in the 18th minute to give the red-hot Quakes their fourth consecutive win, 1-0 over the Galaxy in front of a sellout crowd of 18,000.
Was it a statement win against the much-ballyhooed Western Conference leaders and MLS Cup champs?
"We're not trying to make a statement. We're just trying to climb the tables," said Salinas, a 29-year-old left wing and Lubbock, Texas native.
Salinas was invited to address the crowd after the game, and was engulfed by a media throng in the locker room.
"He just looks confident," Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear said of Salinas. "He looks like he's enjoying the game. I think he feels that no matter who the defender is playing against him, I think he feels he can beat him."
The Quakes believe they can beat anybody. Friday's important win gives them three straight shutout victories over Western Conference foes. It followed a spectacular road sweep of Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United by a 7-0 margin combined.
They are showing they can succeed in a variety of ways, with a variety of lineups, even against big-name players such as the Galaxy's Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos.
"It starts in training," left back Shaun Francis said of the run of shutouts. "We've been doing all of the small things that we need to do to make sure we are alert and physically focused."
When the Galaxy's Gyasi Zardes tried to make runs down right wing, he was often rebuffed by Francis, who, in turn, made a tremendous run in the 82nd minute, fending off Zardes while covering nearly the length of the field. The effort epitomized the Quakes' mindset under coach Dominic Kinnear.
Marc Pelosi, who stepped in for the injured Fatai Alashe in the central midfield, continued to show his knack for finding space and making the right pass. His confidence appears to grow with every touch. Center backs Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez were every bit the measure of their rivals.
Chris Wondolowski described the Galaxy as an "amazing team. They're No. 1 for a reason, defending champs for a reason, but it was nice, especially at home, to come away with a victory."
Wondolowski nearly doubled the team's advantage, but his diving header in the 39th minute clanked off the post. He was slow getting up after jarring his should but was able to continue.
On Salinas' goal, Marvell Wynne lofted a pass to the back post. Quincy Amarikwa, a key player up top during the Quakes' surge, beat his defender and headed a shot on frame, but goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts lunged to his left and punched the ball away. Salinas pounced. He headed the ball back into the net for his career-high third goal of the season.
"I made a near-post run, Marvell put in a great cross and Quincy fought and got on the end of it, and he just made a great save, and God just put me in the right place," Salinas said.
While San Jose appeared to catch a break with a red card to Galaxy defender Leonardo in the 47th minute, after he jockeyed with Amarikwa in a foot race, LA seized the initiative in the second half and looked better with 10 men than it did with 11.
In breaking LA's four-game MLS winning streak, San Jose scored within the first 20 minutes for the third consecutive game.
"Scoring early goals, scoring first definitely goes a long way. It can open things up," Kinnear said, referencing the team's current hot streak. "Defensively we've been solid. I think Victor and Clarence being back in there together is very helpful. The pickup of (Anibal) Godoy has been a real good one for us in a lot of ways -- possession, defending, breaking lines out of pressure. Overall when you look across the board at the starting 11 and beyond, guys are playing good.
"And individually, when they play well, the team collectively plays better too," Kinnear added.
Salinas has scored in back-to-back games for the first time since 2008, his rookie season. He attributes his increased production to the team's being able to gain possession in better spots, not to any sort of change in his mindset.
"I know when I was a rookie, and even my second year, I was a very inconsistent player," Salinas said. "I kind of found my identity in my performance. … But now that's not the case. I'm a lot more of a stable person. I don't find my identity in the approval of (the media) or the fans or anything like that. I think that helps me stay a little more consistent."
Before the game, Pelosi, who has been called up to the U.S. Under-23 national team camp (Aug. 30-Sept. 8, Manchester, England) got a hug from Gerrard, the Liverpool legend. The two exchanged jerseys after the match.
"I played with him a lot in training at Liverpool," Pelosi said. "Definitely someone I looked up to during my time there. Playing against him was a little strange for the both of us. He is a really great guy, and we had a chance to catch up prior to the match. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him, and I look forward to our future matches."
Overall, it was a special night for Pelosi. He made his first home start in a huge game, and impressed Kinnear with his play.
"Playing in front of the home crowd, under the Avaya Stadium lights, was an awesome experience," Pelosi said. "Playing in this rivalry game made it that much more special. It was a fun game to be a part of, and most importantly, we got the three points. We've all worked hard together and I think that is how we came out with the win."