It’s a storied California Clasico tradition for the San Jose Earthquakes to come back from behind and defeat the LA Galaxy in stoppage time. Former Goonie Alan Gordon championed the custom with his famous stoppage-time celebrations, and Shea Salinas’ ninety-third-minute comeback winner continued the legacy on Saturday night.
Salinas had jokingly practiced Gordon-esque celebrations before warmups, ripping his shirt off and running down the touchline. “I thought he was crazy,” said captain Chris Wondolowski. Now he thinks the midfielder is Nostradamus.
“I thought about Gordo when I scored,” Salinas said in the moments after the match before the victory could settle in. He proudly proclaimed that his wild, shirtless celebration had been “an ode” to Gordon.
“It’s understood that when you’re subbed into the Cali Clasico you have to score a last minute winner,” he laughed.
Wondolowski started the comeback with a long-ball counter-attacking goal in the seventy-fifth minute. David Bingham made a game-saving save at the other end and quickly collected the ball to launch a seventy-yard punt downfield. Where did he get the gumption for such a risky Hail Mary?
“That’s just David being a fantastic goalkeeper,” said coach Chris Leitch.
Wondolowski turned on the afterburners to beat his defender to the ball, then cut back into the middle and curled a gorgeous shot into the top corner. Stanford Stadium erupted with euphoria. The comeback was on and the Galaxy knew it. Their frustrations were evident as Joao Pedro was booked for punting the ball into the air after giving away a free-kick.
Per usual, the game went down to the wire. The Quakes, expectant of yet another comeback victory, poured men forward and their persistence paid off deep into stoppage time as Salinas, a second-half substitute, fired an emphatic finish in off the crossbar.
“When Danny [Hoesen] played me the ball all I was thinking about was taking a good touch and striking it on frame,” said Salinas. He couldn’t have struck it any sweeter.
“I think I blacked out,” said Leitch, who was coaching his first ever MLS game.
Bingham ran into the stands to embrace the San Jose Ultras. Others fell to their knees in joy. Galaxy defender Jelle van Damme was sent off for dissent and threw Andres Imperiale’s shirt to the ground after the pair had swapped kits.
“You can’t write it up better than this,” said Leitch. “That’s the definition of the Cali Clasico.”
HEADER PHOTO: ISI