The turning point of the match was when San Jose midfielder Simon Dawkins received a direct red card in the closing stages of the first half. The Quakes going down a man resulted in LA finally being able to break down their stingy defense and win the game. However, before that red card the match was a defensive struggle between the two rivals.
First Half Was Far From Attractive
“It’s the [California] Clasico. It’s one of the biggest games of the year. Our fan base knows it and we know it as well stepping into this locker room,” Zardes said after the match. “So once we stepped onto that field we know that we want to win.”
As a typical California Clasico match, there were 25 fouls, 27 tackles and cards galore. In total, there were seven yellow cards and one red. In the first half alone there were five cards shown by referee Ismail Elfath, with three going to the Galaxy: Mike Magee in the 11th minute, Jelle Van Damme in the 21th and 60 seconds later Nigel De Jong completed the list of Galaxy players in the book in the first 45 minutes.
The Galaxy was able to muster up seven shots in the first half, but only two of them were placed on target. Earthquakes goalkeeper David Bingham was able to stop both of them with ease to keep the Galaxy at bay. The defensive struggles in the first half limited the chances or the offensive excitement.
As a result, the main events were Steven Gerrard leaving the game in the fourth minute due to an injury. Midfielder Baggio Husidic came on for the former Liverpool captain. The next big moment came in stoppage time of the first half. In the third minute of stoppage time, Dawkins was shown a direct red card for scissor kicking Sebastian Lletget. The red card at the end of the half set up the Galaxy’s breakthrough in the final 45 minutes.
“It hurt us going down a man especially for a good period of time is always difficult,” Quakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said after the game.
LA Starts Second Half With Purpose
The Galaxy started the half with more momentum and venom in the attack. LA created three shots in the opening five minutes, yet all of Mike Magee’s chances were denied. However, Los Angeles’ offense was just starting to warm up.
It only took 10 minutes for the Galaxy to jump ahead in the match. Magee and Robbie Keane started the play by passing the ball back and forth to each other in the penalty box. Then Magee crossed the ball towards the center of the box, where it found Van Damme. He knodded the ball on for Zardes to prod home.
“As a striker I always know the ball is going to come to me. You know I am always thinking that way, even if it doesn’t I always think it is going to come to me,” Zardes said about his first goal in the match. “So I saw it deflected of Jelle and the other defenders head. My first initial thought was get to the ball before [Chris] Wondolowski, and sure enough I got it.”
Before the celebrations of the first goal ended, LA had doubled their lead. Zardes scored his second goal of the match just minutes after breaking the dead lock. Van Damme started the play with a long range pass from midfield to Magee. The ball deflected into the path of Zardes, who beat Bingham at his right hand post to make it 2-0 at the 62nd minute.
The Galaxy began to get comfortable with their 2-0 lead and started to bunker in. The Earthquakes were pushing with the best of their abilities despite being down a man. The Northern California club received a break from Van Damme committing early on a tackle, as his mistake opened up space for Quakes full back Marvell Wynne. The speedster was able send the ball into the center of the box.
The ball deflected off Galaxy defender Daniel Steres' arm, but the ball dropped favorably for Chris Wondolowski. He was able to control the ball and finish the play off with shot to the bottom left hand corner to cut the lead 2-1 in the 88th minute.
A few minutes later the Galaxy restored the two goal lead when Keane converted a penalty in the 90th minute to make it 3-1. The Irish international sent the ball to the bottom left hand corner to seal the victory for LA.
Keane scored his 75th goal for the Galaxy in MLS competition. The captain also notched in his 96th goal for the Five Time MLS Cup Champions when it comes to all competitions.
The Galaxy for their next match will be head to Canada to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on April the second at BC Place. The Quakes will be returning home to host D.C. United on the second of April as well at Avaya Stadium.