Written by Alex Baker
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy were held to a 1-1 draw at home by the San Jose Earthquakes at Sunday’s ‘California Clasico.’ With Steven Gerrard and Giovani Dos Santos having both recovered from recent injuries and midfielder Nigel de Jong returned from his retroactive suspension, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena was able to deploy his entire first choice 11 for the first time since early in the season.
But even at full-strength, the Galaxy found themselves frustrated in front of a near sellout crowd at the Stub Hub Center and might not have got on the scoresheet at all were it not for an own goal from San Jose defender Marvell Wynne.
“They played well defensively,” admitted Arena afterwards. “I thought our second half we played very well. We created enough chances to score a couple of goals. We could have won that game.”
There were already 83 minutes on the clock when Robbie Rogers laid the ball off for an overlapping run from substitute Sebastian Lletget. Lletget crossed the ball in for an onrushing Gyasi Zardes, but the striker was beaten to the punch by Wynne, who tipped the ball into the San Jose net while attempting to clear it.
With less than 10 minutes remaining on the clock, you’d have expected the Galaxy to close out the game and collect all three points. However, just four minutes later, San Jose struck through Fatai Alashe, who headed a cross in from Chad Barrett past Galaxy keeper Brian Rowe to make it 1-1.
“I think we were four minutes away from what we wanted which was three points and that clean sheet we spoke about during the week,” said Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard. “But by no means did we play to our standards. I thought we were average early on and lacked a bit of energy and a bit of creativity in the final third. But I thought it was a fair result. They had a couple of chances; we had a couple of chances. No complaints with the results.”
“Sebastian [Lletget] came on and made a great play for us. We should have been able to close it out,” admitted Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee.
The result leaves the Galaxy languishing in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, one point above San Jose in sixth.
Looking ahead to next week’s away tilt against Montreal Impact, the Galaxy must prepare to make due without key players Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes and Baggio Husidic, who will be away on international duty for the next few weeks.
“You don’t want to lose those guys, but we’re not worried about it,” said Magee. “We’ve got plenty of guys that have more than earned games and minutes. Guys have been chomping at the bit so we’re not worried.”
“We have other players that are ready to step up,” added Arena. “This isn’t anything that surprised us so we’ll have a team ready to go.”