Los Angeles Soccer: San Jose Earthquakes
The Galaxy have been home for the Fourth every year of their existence, winning a lot more than they lose. The league's most iconic Independence Day celebration takes place in Denver, where the Colorado Rapids also are home for the 17th time -- and looking to improve on their 11-2-3 record.
This also marks the midpoint, more or less, of the MLS season -- 10 of 19 clubs have played 17 or 18 of 34 matches -- so let's look at how things have gone.
BEST TEAM: The San Jose Earthquakes are atop the Supporters' Shield standings, and that's a decent barometer this time. Their knack for comebacks and late winners could take them far.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: See Best Team.
MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM: You thought I was going to say the Galaxy? No, it's Toronto FC. The Reds made such huge strides last year, did well to knock out L.A. in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, then collapsed. It cost Aron Winter his job, but they've looked better under Paul Mariner.
MVP: The best player in MLS has been Thierry Henry, but injuries have limited his time -- and New York's best run took place while he was sidelined. Dwayne De Rosario, last year's winner, is critical for D.C. United, the Eastern Conference leader. Marvin Chavez has been fantastic for San Jose. But our vote goes to Chris Wondolowski, whose importance for the Earthquakes goes beyond his league-best 14 goals.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Frank Yallop is a slam dunk for what San Jose has done.
Here are this week's power rankings:
1. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (11-4-3, 36 points), Last Week: 1
Week 17: Chris Wondolowski's 14th competes rally from two-goal deficit to beat the Galaxy, 4-3; Alan Gordon's strike too late in 2-1 loss at Portland.
Latest: Shea Salinas, back from a broken clavicle (thanks to Rafa Marquez), returns to the starting lineup.
American idol: Yorba Linda's gritty Steven Lenhart, the most hated forward (by opposing defenders) in the league.
Next: Saturday at FC Dallas, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
2. D.C. UNITED (10-5-3, 33 points), LW: 5
Week 17: Chris Pontius scores his ninth just before halftime, and D.C. cruises to a 3-0 victory over Montreal.
Latest: Long Tan arrives from Vancouver, looking for playing time.
American idol: Has to be Pontius, Yorba Linda's other goal-getter.
Next: Sunday, July 15, at Houston, 6 p.m. (Galavision).
3. NEW YORK RED BULLS (9-4-4, 31 points), LW: 2
Week 17: Jan Gunnar Solli scores at the start, but Red Bulls settle for 1-1 draw at Toronto FC.
Latest: Bulls hopeful Teemu Tainio can return from knee injury. Seems surgery would help.
American idol: We're going with Kenny Cooper, a Texan only because his father -- an English goalkeeper -- was an NASL star way back when.
Next: Sunday at New England, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
CARSON -- It's time for the Galaxy's annual Fourth of July festivities, but David Beckham is a no-show after some fireworks last weekend. Might Omar Gonzalez's return make up for his absence?
L.A.'s biggest name will miss Wednesday night's match against the Philadelphia Union at Home Depot Center after picking up a stoppage-time yellow card in last weekend's loss at San Jose, but Gonzalez has been activated from MLS's Disabled List and will be available for the game.
Beckham's caution was his sixth of the season and triggered an automatic one-game suspension for accumulation, and more games on the sideline could be coming later this week.
As the Galaxy starts to awaken from their slumber -- they took a three-game winning streak, marked by diversely strong performances, into Saturday night's defeat -- the last thing they need is the man who runs their attack sitting games out.
“Any time you lose your best player, it's going to hurt,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said as L.A. prepared for Philly. “It's part of the game, but we obviously wish we had him. We've got guys who will step in and do a good job.”
It was inevitable that Beckham would serve a yellow-card suspension -- he did so twice last year -- after picking up four yellow cards in a six-game span during April and May. The fifth means a one-game ban, and Beckham had erased one of his with three clean games before picking up cards in each of the last two games.
“Actually, David started the season with a lot of cards right in the beginning, and I think he's done fairly well since then,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “Certainly, when you start off with four yellow cards in the first four games, or close to it, you're going to be dealing with suspension at some point.”
Arena is mistaken on the specifics: Beckham didn't pick up his first caution until L.A.'s seventh game and has been carded six times in his last 10 league appearances. Saturday's card was totally unnecessary.
Beckham, frustrated as Sam Cronin sat prone in front of the Earthquakes' goal during a stoppage, seemingly trying to waste away the game's final seconds, twice booted balls from the left wing toward the San Jose midfielder. The second ball struck Cronin and ricocheted off referee Hilario Grajeda, who pulled the yellow.
In the pushing and shoving that ensued, Beckham got to face-to-face with a couple of Quakes, at one point lowering his head into that of Quakes midfielder Rafael Baca, the former Loyola Marymount All-American from Lawndale. When the final whistle blew moments later, Beckham had to be prevented from going after San Jose midfielder Khari Stephenson.
The wildest and weirdest of California Clasicos unfolded just as the Galaxy hoped, at least after an early hiccup, and exactly as the San Jose Earthquakes might have expected -- and desired.
Three goals in 11 minutes, two of them caused by Jason Hernandez errors, gave L.A. a two-goal edge just before halftime, and the way the Galaxy have been playing lately, that ought to be enough against nearly anyone in Major League Soccer.
But this Earthquakes side increasingly has the look of destiny about it, and given what's come before, its comeback for a 4-3 triumph Saturday night at sold-out Stanford Stadium was persuasive.
Victor Bernardez blasted home a feed from a corner kick near the end of the first half, Sam Cronin finished a spectacular sequence to start the second half, and MLS scoring leader Chris Wondolowski's backheel from a corner kick in the 61st minute delivered San Jose its seventh comeback victory of the year.
It spoiled the Galaxy's best 10 minutes or so of the season and restored the Quakes' spot atop MLS's Supporters' Shield standings, which had been taken by D.C. United with a victory earlier in the day.
It was an absorbing match, probably the best in the league this season, marked by end-to-end action, huge shifts in momentum, sudden chances enhanced by a tight field, goals both brilliant and unfortunate, tremendous atmosphere (some 50,391 on hand), and a end-of-game meltdown by David Beckham, whose nightmare week closed with a one-game suspension certain and additional games likely to be added.
“It was enjoyable to be part of, for the most part,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan told media afterward. “I thought the crowd was great, the energy was great, and it's just 20 some-off people in here [in L.A.'s locker room] who aren't happy. ... It's a game we should have won.”
Coach Bruce Arena agreed with the last part.
“It was a sloppy game, a lot of mishaps,” he said. “Kind of what we expected on a tight, short field. ... We did a poor job [defensively] today. Our defense on set pieces wasn't good, and it cost us the game.
“We have no one to blame. We should not lose that game.”
There are so many iconic moments from California Clasicos past:
- San Jose's five-goal rally in Major League Soccer's 2003 playoffs
- Landon Donovan's bitter 2005 return to Spartan Stadium
- The Galaxy's 3-1 road triumph over the best-in-the-league Quakes en route to the 2005 MLS Cup title
- Alan Gordon's stoppage-time header to complete a three-goal comeback
That last one, just 5½ weeks ago at Home Depot Center, still bothers the Galaxy, who were 15 minutes plus stoppage from ending a nightmarish five-game winless streak before Steven Lenhart, Khari Stephenson and Gordon delivered a most improbable 3-2 triumph.
Only it wasn't so improbable. San Jose (10-3-3), the best team in MLS record-wise, keeps pulling out late victories. It has won seven of its last 10 league games with a goal in the 84th minute or later, scored four stoppage-time winners, rallied from behind in six victories (all competitions) and gone 4-2-3 after conceding the first goal.
MLS teams have rallied from a halftime deficit to win six times this season -- the Earthquakes twice. They lead MLS with 11 goals in last 15 minutes and 20 in the last half-hour.
That's what the Galaxy (6-8-2), finally finding its stride after three horrid months (with that unbeaten streak, which reached eight games), is facing when in Saturday night's rematch before a sellout crowd of more than 50,000 at Stanford Stadium.
“That's the trademark of their team,” said L.A. defender Todd Dunivant. “Just being the hungrier team, getting on the end of things.”
It happened May 23 in Carson. Hector Jimenez, making his first start of the season, scored a fine goal just three minutes in, and L.A. dictated play for the first hour. Jimenez was red-carded about 15 minutes into the second half, but Mike Magee doubled the advantage in the 73rd minute.
“We felt we played one of the best first halves we'd played up to that point,” Dunivant said. “We got out to a good lead, got a red card but still got another goal on top of it, so we were in good shape and let it slip.”
Lenhart headed home a corner kick in the 75th minute, Stephenson converted a penalty kick after a David Beckham hand ball seven minutes later, and Gordon struck on a ball from the right flank four minutes into stoppage.
Major League Soccer's second transfer window opens Wednesday, so big-name players -- some from Euro 2012 -- could soon be enthralling North American audiences.
Well, at least in theory. Some big names have been bandied about as potential acquisitions, and there have been reports that Italian stars Alessandro Del Piero (to the Galaxy) and Alessandro Nesta (to New York) have signed deals, but most of the rumors are nothing more, and to date only five players definitely are arriving in MLS.
The big names are both Designated Players: Italian striker Marco Di Vaio, who figures to debut for Montreal in Wednesday night's clash with Toronto FC, and Honduran winger Oscar Boniek Garcia, who is joining Houston.
Philadelphia claimed through allocation former Chicago star Bakary Soumare, who has been playing in Europe, and Chicago (Brazilian midfielder Alex de Lima) and Columbus (Costa Rican forward Jairo Arrieta) also have made additions.
Chivas USA also figures to bolster its roster, with the return of forward Tristan Bowen from a Belgian loan deal, although head coach Robin Fraser this week said it's merely “among the consideration of things we have to do. ... I don't feel like we're under a real time constraint, so certainly we'll make the decision when we feel the decision is right.”
Nesta says he's not coming -- he wants to play in MLS but received no offers -- and talk that Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko might join D.C. were quickly tossed aside. New York wants a DP; Irish midfielder Stephen Ireland's name has been most prominent.
Then there's Alta Loma's Carlos Bocanegra, the U.S. national team captain whose tenure at Rangers FC might be ending as the club deals with financial troubles that are going to drop it to the bottom division in Scotland. Vancouver got allocation money, among other things, in the deal that enabled Philly to sign Soumare, and speculation has Bocanegra headed to B.C. Any chance Fontana's Maurice Edu, also at Rangers, could return to MLS, too?
The window is open for a month.
Here are this week's power rankings:
1. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (10-3-3, 33 points), Last Week: 3
Week 16: Chris Wondolowski converts a late penalty kick to beat Colorado, 2-1, and scores at the end for a 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake; late flurry can't solve Seattle in 1-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal defeat.
Latest: Game vs. Galaxy at Stanford is a sellout -- 50,000 tickets sold.
Top scorer: Wondolowski leads MLS with 13 goals in 14 games.
Next: Saturday vs. Galaxy at Stanford Stadium, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Tuesday at Portland, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-4-3, 27 points), LW: 5
Week 16: Former Chivas USA center back Heath Pearce gives Red Bulls a 1-1 draw at Vancouver; former D.C. backup Brandon Barklage scores two brilliant goals to lead New York past United, 3-2.
Latest: Bulls give up fastest goal in D.C. United history, then play the best 45 minutes “probably since I arrived,” Hans Backe says.
Top scorer: Kenny Cooper has scored 11, two more than Thierry Henry, who has played just 10 games.
Next: Saturday at Toronto FC, 4 p.m. (Galavision).
3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-4-2, 29 points), LW: 2
Week 16: Jacob Peterson's eighth-minute goal is worth a point in a 1-1 draw at Seattle; late goals magnify 4-0 loss at Philadelphia; C.J. Sapong scores twice in 3-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro).
Latest: Thousand Oaks-bred right back Chance Myers' minutes streak ends at 2,250, all competitions, when he's not in the lineup for the Open Cup quarterfinals. He last missed action last Sept. 17.
Top scorer: Lawndale's Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong each have five.
Next: Friday vs. Chicago, 5 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Wednesday, July 4, vs. Montreal, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
U.S. Soccer announced the semifinal pairings Thursday, and they followed the expected regionalization, with all three West Coast teams on one side of the bracket and the clubs in the East and Midwest in the other bracket.
Chivas plays against an Eastern team, third-division Charlotte Eagles, on Tuesday at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium. MLS rivals San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders meet in San Francisco.
Seattle is the 99-year-old tournament's three-time defending champion.
If the Earthquakes advance, they will stage the semifinal at Santa Clara University's Buck Shaw Stadium, their home field until a planned permanent stadium opens possibly next year or in 2014. The Sounders would play at their No. 2 facility, Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash.
Chivas reached the semifinals in 2010, losing to Seattle.
Semifinal games would be played July 10 or 11.
Here are the semifinal pairings:
- Chivas USA (MLS)/Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at Seattle Sounders (MLS), June 10, 7 p.m., or Chivas USA (MLS)/Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), June 10, 7:30 p.m.
- Sporting Kansas City (MLS) at Philadelphia Union (MLS), July 11, 4:30 p.m., or Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Philadelphia Union (MLS), July 10, 4:30 p.m., or Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro), July 10, 4:30 p.m., or Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS), July 10, 5:30 p.m.
And here are Tuesday's quarterfinal pairings:
- Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) vs. Chivas USA (MLS) at Cal State Fullerton, 7:30 p.m.
- Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at Philadelphia Union (MLS), 4:30 p.m.
- Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS), 5:30 p.m.
- Seattle Sounders (MLS) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS), 7:30 p.m.
In just a matter of days, the argument over goal-line technology has been settled. They'll still argue, but after Ukraine was denied a legitimate goal in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to England at Euro 2012, the discussion is moot.
“After last night's match,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter tweeted Wednesday, “GLT is no longer an alternative but a necessity.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber has been vocal in his support of goal-line technology, and the week's better argument in favor of implementation occurred in Chicago's 3-1 victory Saturday over visiting New York.
A shot by Fire forward Dominic Oduro, slowed by a deflection off Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara, was cleared as it entered the net by Wilman Conde. The linesman was a little behind the play and screened by a sliding Conde and could not see that the ball had, indeed, crossed fully into the goal. Referee Baldomero Toledo waved play on and cautioned Oduro for protesting.
The incident incensed the Fire, who replied with another goal four minutes later and another 13 minutes after that to pull away.
Marko Devic's goal for Ukraine was just as clear, and John Terry's clearance after it had crossed the line should have been easier to spot. UEFA, led by legendary French midfielder (and anti-technology crusader) Michel Platini, is experimenting with goal judges in this European Championship. Their sole job is to decide if the ball has crossed the line. The goal judge in Donetsk was next to the net staring at the play, and he didn't get it right.
As Michael Ballack noted on ESPN's coverage of the Euros, it's not his fault. Everything's happening so fast, the eyes can't discern exactly where what is at any given moment. ESPN used stop-action video to prove Devic's goal should have counted.
FIFA on July 5 will decide if Platini's alternative or either of two systems, both using technology, at use in England and Denmark should be approved for widespread use. The past week calls for at least one of them to get the nod, and the UEFA boss' chances aren't good.
Here are this week's power rankings:
1. REAL SALT LAKE (10-3-2, 32 points), Last Week: 1
Week 15: Fabian Espindola strikes twice in impressive 3-0 triumph at Chivas USA.
Latest: Javier Morales ready to return to the starting lineup.
Should-be All-Star: Espindola has been unstoppable.
Next: Wednesday vs. Galaxy, 6 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22); Saturday vs. San Jose, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
2. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-3-1, 28 points), LW: 3
Week 15: C.J. Sapong, Julio Cesar hit the net in 2-0 win over Toronto FC.
Latest: Peter Vermes reveals K.C. has tried to acquire Giovani Dos Santos “a couple times, but there's always been little problems here or there,” mostly money talk with Tottenham. The Mexico star says he wants to stay in Europe.
Should-be All-Star: Aurelien Collin has been splendid at the back.
Next: Wednesday at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Philadelphia, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro), 5:30 p.m.
3. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (8-3-3, 27 points), LW: 4
Week 15: Idle.
Latest: When will the Quakes' new stadium open? Could be 2013 or 2014 -- still lots of uncertainty.
Should-be All-Star: Chris Wondolowski, of course.
Next: Wednesday at Colorado, 6:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal vs. Seattle, 7:30 p.m.
CARSON -- Bobby Burling is “just kind of doing the MLS tour,” spending a week or so with Colorado and now with Chivas USA, hoping a backline job will come his way.
He needs things to clear up north of the border first.
The 27-year-old center back, a 2007 Galaxy draft pick who spent all or parts of three seasons with Chivas USA, joined fellow trialist Scott Morrison on the Goats' backline for Friday's MLS Reserve League game against the San Jose Earthquakes at Home Depot Center.
Burling, a Coloradan who starred at Loyola Marymount University, has been in camp with Chivas since last week. His rights are owned by the Montreal Impact, which took him from San Jose in November's MLS Expansion Draft, but he has no future in Quebec.
“It's been a frustrating five or six months, to say the least ...,” Burling said after going the full 90 minutes in Chivas' 3-1 victory. “The situation with Montreal has been kind of a dead end, and for whatever reason it's taken longer than I would of definitely liked for something to happen.”
Burling was unable to reach a deal with the Impact, and he's been unable to secure his release so he could join another MLS club. If a team wants him, it likely would have to make a trade for his rights.
“Long story short, a bit of a contract dispute,” he said. “He said/she said what I was going to get when I came up there, and basically things went backwards from there, and now here we stand.
“It's frustrating. I was really looking forward to going there, and now it's all kind of up in the air.”
The Argentine midfielder obliged them Friday morning, putting on a clinic to steer the Goats to a 3-1 MLS Reserve League victory over San Jose on one of the training fields west of Home Depot Center's stadium.
He scored two goals, drew the penalty kick for the third, and played with a joie de vivre that ought to have everyone in red and white stripes smiling broadly. Might Cardozo, who arrived from the Galaxy two months ago, be ready to join Chivas' attacking revolution?
“I think today he's put in his best effort since he's been here,” assistant coach Greg Vanney said. “He was dangerous -- he was goal-dangerous. ... For him, it's getting him to think about the goal and think about the final product and not just about possessing around the field.”
Possession-wise, few can match Cardozo, a 22-year-old Uruguayan born magician who came to the Galaxy last year on loan from Quilmes and was sent down the hall when L.A., in dire need of backline help, came calling for David Junior Lopes -- who, by the way, dropped by to watch some of Friday's action.
Cardozo had the best foot skills on the Galaxy, but a pretty good margin, and to watch him weave through foes in tight spaces is something truly to behold. If the chief aim in the game were to weave through players in limited space, he'd be Lionel Messi.
That skill has never translated into production, one reason the Galaxy found him expendable -- and why Chivas, as it has added dynamic young attacking talent (with, especially, Jose Erik Correa and Juan Agudelo), has used him in only three of 10 first-team games since his arrival.
“We challenged him over the last few days,” Vanney said. “He's crafty in possession and can speed around, but at the end of the day, as an attacking midfielder you have to have final product. ... Today he definitely had some good looks.”
All three third-division teams in action Tuesday pulled out victories, all in overtime, to advance to the June 26 quarterfinals in the 99th edition of American soccer's oldest and most prestigious knockout tournament.
The Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions and Harrisburg City Islanders join five Major League Soccer clubs in the final eight, all of them set to take on first-division opposition.
The Islanders pulled off the upset, booting MLS power New York Red Bulls from the competition for the second time in three years. Sainey Touray, a former Red Bull, scored his second goal of the night in the 94th minute and rookie Lucky Mkosana added another in the 117th for a 3-1 victory.
Harrisburg overcame a three-goal overtime deficit last week to beat the New England Revolution on penalties.
Dayton toppled amateurs Michigan Bucks, 2-1, and Charlotte claimed a 2-1 win at San Antonio, on Mauricio Salles' 116th-minute penalty kick, in the USL Pro's only showdown with the second-division North American Soccer League.
Charlotte will play Chivas USA at Home Depot Center. Dayton has a date at Sporting Kansas City.
The Philadelphia Union also needed overtime to get past D.C. United in one of two all-MLS clashes.
Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart was the hero for the the San Jose Earthquakes, scoring in the 85th minute to beat the NASL's Minnesota Thunder, 2-1, at Stanford.
Here is a scorelist and schedule:
Hector Jimenez was given an additional one-game suspension and assessed an undisclosed fine Friday for his studs-up tackle on Steven Beitashour in the Galaxy's 3-2 loss Wednesday night to San Jose and Home Depot Center.
The second-year winger from Bell Gardens, who was making just his second Major League Soccer start, was red-carded for the 59th-minute offense. That carries an automatic one-game suspension, for Saturday night's game at Houston, and Jimenez also will miss the June 17 match against Portland.
The Galaxy also announced that forward Adam Cristman has been placed on the MLS Disabled List with a concussion. He had missed the first six games this season with a concussion suffered during a preseason match. He'll be eligible to return for the July 8 game at Chicago but can play in U.S. Open Cup, MLS Reserve League and friendly matches before then.
He just didn't help.
That's what the Galaxy thinks anyway, after a red card to Hector Jimenez and a penalty kick after a hand ball in the box by David Beckham helped fuel the Quakes' comeback.
Everyone agrees that Jimenez's red card was fair. And so, perhaps, was the penalty kick Khari Stephenson converted to tie the score in the 82nd minute. But head coach Bruce Arena noted in his postgame news conference that Marrufo “didn't call anything on their strikers all night” and that the referee's failure to award the Galaxy a penalty kick after San Jose defender Ike Opara handled the ball in his box after falling to the ground, was egregious.
“I'm told,” Arena said, “their hand ball in the first half is not a hand ball, even though he basically got both hands on the ball. What can you say?”
Beckham was more direct in his criticism.
“Unfortunately, we had someone in control of the game tonight that, every time we've had him, he wants to be the star, and that's what happens when you have a referee who wants to be on 'SportsCenter,' ” he said. "That was disappointing.
“Maybe the decision for the sending off, maybe it was. The penalty? Maybe it was. ... I just turned my back, and my arms were as close to me as they could be. They weren't outstretched -- yeah, it hit my hand, but it could have gone either way. [Opara] falls on the ball in the penalty area, rolls over it a couple of times, touches it with his hand a couple of times. Everyone else sees it apart from the 'star.' ”
Strong words, and they'll probably cost Beckham a few dollars once the league gets wind of them. Oh, well. He can afford it.
CARSON -- The Galaxy couldn't have felt much better about things as the clock hit 75 minutes Wednesday night: Their best performance of the season had been rewarded with a two-goal lead, and although they were down to 10 men, they were in control. Hold on another 15 minutes, plus a few more in stoppage, and they'd have their first victory in a month.
But in a season in which nearly everything that can go wrong has, L.A. found a new, most devastating way to fall, surrendering three goals over the final 20 minutes -- the last deep in stoppage -- to drop its fourth game in the last five, a 3-2 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes that left a lot of heads shaking.
Alan Gordon's header in the 94th minute delivered the knockout blow, handing the Galaxy their seventh league defeat, extending their winless streak to six games and leaving them in the Western Conference basement, 16 points off the lead.
“We played awful well tonight not to get something out of this game. It's a shame,” noted Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. “You make your own breaks, and tonight we were in position to get three points and really turned that game over.”
Bell Gardens' Hector Jimenez, making just his second MLS start, third league appearance and 2012 debut, scored a fine goal in the third minute to give L.A. an advantage but was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Steven Beitashour in the 59th minute, and the Galaxy (3-7-2, 11 points) -- dominant to that point -- watched everything change in a matter of minutes.
First, they doubled their lead, with Mike Magee taking a pass on the break from David Beckham, then beating Quakes defender Jason Hernandez and stepping past goalkeeper Jon Busch to fire into the goal's ceiling in the 73rd minute.
Three minutes later, Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart got one back for San Jose, a near-post header from Marvin Chavez's corner kick, and the Quakes were on the front foot the rest of the way.
“We're ahead 2-0, I don't know how many minutes left,” Arena said. “Really a poor tactical approach on our behalf. We shouldn't get beat on a restart for a goal. That let them back in the game. And we can't lose the ball in our defensive half. We have to play the ball up the field, we have to pull in collectively as a group and defend with our 10 players and play the game out, get the three points and go home.”
Khari Stephenson tied the score in the 82nd minute, converting a penalty kick after Beckham handled the ball while leaping to block a drive by Hernandez. A turnover led to the winner, with Hernandez again pumping the ball into the box and Gordon, who scored equalizers in the 88th and 90th minutes of San Jose's last two games, escaped Sean Franklin's mark and soared above A.J. DeLaGarza to nod it into the net.
“I just was following up the play,” said Gordon, who played for the Galaxy from 2004 through 2010. “I think there may have been a little bit of hesitation on their part, and I was just seeing the play through. They hesitated, I didn't, I finished it. Forwards get lucky sometimes. I got lucky. Who cares? I put it in, end of story, period.”
CARSON -- David Beckham knows what the Galaxy needs to do to turn around this disaster of a season and start a steady climb toward their rightful place among Major League Soccer's trophy contenders.
“We're champions,” he said on the eve of Wednesday night's Home Depot Center showdown with the San Jose Earthquakes. “And we need to start playing and walking on the field like champions, instead of walking on the field thinking because we're champions, we just have to turn up.”
It's different phrasing, but the sentiment hasn't changed over 11 weeks. L.A. started poorly and, but for moments here and halves there, have continued to play far below its standard. The Galaxy (3-6-2) already have lost more MLS games than all of last season and sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, 15 points -- five victories -- off the lead.
The Galaxy have two more matches before the league takes two weekends off for international fixture dates, and if they're going to start righting things before then, they'll have to do so without captain Landon Donovan and star striker Robbie Keane, who are away until mid-June -- perhaps later for Keane -- with their national teams.
What that means, exactly, is hard to say. Keane has not played well and is dealing with a hamstring injury that would have kept him out of Wednesday's game regardless. Donovan has been up and down, not to his usual level.
Head coach Bruce Arena took a sly swipe their way when discussing San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski, MLS's goals leader, who is with Donovan in the U.S. national team camp in Orlando, Fla. Asked how much his absence might affect the Earthquakes, Arena said: “He's a good player, and he's been playing well. If you have good players that aren't playing well and you're losing, perhaps it's not as much.”
He then was asked whether his team will miss Donovan and Keane.
“It hasn't the last five games or so,” Arena said. “I mean, when you haven't done well and you lose a player, you can't be crying about it. ... No one questions the quality of Robbie and Landon, but we don't have any results to show it's going to be a loss we can't overcome.”
Defender Todd Dunivant says he thinks it's not necessarily a negative, that the Galaxy will have to be more proactive without their stars.
“Guys are going to have to step up to the plate,” he said. “We need that kind of responsibility to be put on other players, and everyone on this team needs to step it up a little bit. It's not one or two guys need to pick up their game, it's everybody needs to raise their game.
“Sometimes having absences like this help you because guys have to step up and the responsibility is put on them.”
Chivas USA has been giving up so many late goals, and losing so many points because of it, that the finish of Monday's MLS Reserve League match at San Jose had to come as a most pleasant surprise.
Cesar Romero netted his fourth Reserve League goal in the third minute of stoppage to give the Goats (1-1-1) a 1-1 draw with the Earthquakes at their practice facility.
Romero, who has 11 goals in all games for Chivas -- preseason included -- curled a free kick into the upper-right corner from the right flank as the Goats climbed into third place in the insanely tight West Division, in which all six clubs are separated by two points.
San Jose (1-1-2) scored at the start -- Chino Hills' (and UC Riverside's) Cesar Diaz Pizarro beating goalkeeper Tim Melia from Sercan Guvenisik's feed in the second minute -- but were down to 10 men by the end, following Jean-Marc Alexandre's second yellow card in the 86th.
Chivas scored early (Jose Erik Correa, fourth minute) and San Jose late (Alan Gordon, 88th) in Sunday's Major League Soccer meeting.