The LA Galaxy defeated the ten-man San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 in a controversial California Clasico at Stubhub Center in Los Angeles.
With a myriad of injuries and tactical setbacks, this match was a timely reminder of how San Jose’s success is delicately poised. Thrown into an unfavorable situation when Simon Dawkins was harshly sent off on the brink of the half, they shrunk back into their own half and never really got out again.
The loss wasn’t particularly unexpected or surprising in itself, but Dawkins’ red card for a challenge on Sebastian Lletget, which the served as the catalyst, was a terrible call by referee Ismail Elfath.
Zardes scored a brace early in the second half and although Chris Wondolowski pulled a goal back with a scrappy finish in the eighty-eighth minute, Robbie Keane won a penalty and coolly finished it before San Jose could mount any potential comeback.
“Playing down a man especially for a period of time is always tough. We did OK,” said Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear. “We started a little narrow. The second 45 was a hold on. We showed good spirit but we tried to play too much through the middle. Tough game. Zero zero at half-time on the road is good but knowing we were a man down was tough. We were sitting deep. We gave them opportunities to keep us at our end. We conceded a lot of space because we had to.”
San Jose’s tactical woes were evident early on, Dawkin’s red only exacerbated them. The Quakes lacked width and pace out wide and their service to the strikers was poor.
Clarence Goodson was ruled out with “back tightness” per the CSN broadcast and Andres Imperiale replaced him at the back, making his Quakes debut and first professional appearance since early December.
“It’s been a long time and it was nice,” said Imperiale. “I felt really good. I came here to play and got the opportunity against a big team and big players.”
Kinnear’s men were out-shot seven to one in the first half, although there weren’t many quality chances either way. Bingham calmly collected Nigel de Jong’s early free-kick and Lletget’s curling effort from the right.
Dawkins’ red card changed the complexion of the second half and the Quakes looked shellshocked.
Mike Magee came close in the fifty-first minute, with Anibal Godoy blocking the American’s curling effort off the line in the middle of a crowded box.
Five minutes later, Zardes got in behind Marvell Wynne down the left and the full-back hacked the forward down with a late challenge. Elfath was correct to pull out the yellow card, but he had made so many bizarre calls by that point, uncertainty was understandable.
Robbie Keane back-heeled the ball to Mike Magee in a neat training-ground free-kick routine and the veteran forward curled a cross towards the far-post. Jelle van Damme rose above Colvey to knock the ball down back across goal and Zardes poked home from close range.
The Quakes struggled to string passes together and Zardes doubled the Galaxy’s lead in the sixty-sixth minute. Kip Colvey mishit a clearance from a long ball over the top and the ball fell to the feet of Zardes on the edge of the box. With Bingham caught in no man’s land, it was simply a matter of guiding the ball on target.
The American forward had a golden opportunity to put the match to bed on seventy-two minutes, but pulled low effort wide from Ashley Cole’s cut-back.
Kinnear threw on Shea Salinas in an attempt to inject some pace into the team and then brought on Matias Perez Garcia and Innocent Emeghara for Fatai Alashe and Quincy Amarikwa. Wondolowski’s late goal came from a quick break, but Bernardez tripped up Keane in the penalty area not a minute later and the Irishman cooly converted. And so, the Quakes’ perfect start to the season unceremoniously came to an end.