Quakes Shake Galaxy, Shimmy To 1-0 Win

TSG took in the San Jose Earthquake-Los Angeles Galaxy game from the stands Saturday at a sunny Buck Shaw Stadium and watched as the Earthquakes took the lead early and then befuddled a frustrated Galaxy side.

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An acute angle strike by $48,000-per-year man Chris Wondolowski–he of the now 8 goals on the season–put the Quakes ahead and set the upset in motion.

However, if you witnessed the lead-up, then you know the credit, or discredit, goes to the Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts for failing to communicate with back-up leftback A.J. De La Garza on a cross into the box.

Both De La Garza and Ricketts avoided the incoming hot potato and Wondolowski was all too happy to collect the marble before it bounded beyond the endline and fire it low into the left corner pocket. San Jose was 1-0 to the good.

L.A. coach Bruce Arena was still perturbed at the early gaffe in the post game press conference adding, “I don’t know what Donovan (Ricketts) was thinking on that one. I think he thought the ball was going to go out. I’m going to have to ask him.”

The strike was all the Quakes would need on a day when it appeared they followed the blueprint on the whiteboard in their locker room to the letter. It read:

1. Score

2. Just f*cking win

Once San Jose had the lead, they sat extremely deep and clogged the midfield, resorting to relieving pressure on over-the-top balls to Cornell Glen who, though ably defended most of the day by the Galaxy defense and seemingly beset by a multitude of injuries big and small, battled until he was relieved by the league’s newest Designated Player Geovanni late in the 2nd half.

Despite a big "SuperCannon" banner draped from the stands, Busch raised his game and was a difference maker

Thanks to seven saves by keeper Jon Busch–one an intelligent wrong-handed punch in the 2nd on a ball that it seemed Busch thought would go out–the Earthquakes bend-don’t-break strategy only bent and the battle of California went to the uptown side.

The game certainly appeared to turn in the midfield.

Arena might have credited star Landon Donovan with his “man of the match,” but the Galaxy looked like a team–in midfield–that was far from the top of the table.

At one point in the first half, Sean Franklin waved and audibly called Michael Stephens off the ball, only to see the youngster play the ball and immediately turn it over.

On multiple occasions, Donovan seemed frustrated, either throwing his hands up in the air or constantly beckoning forward Mike Magee to move off him off the ball. (Mike Magee had a nasty case of USMNTitis on the days as well. Definition here.)

Omar Gonzalez could be heard hollering at one point up-the-field at Stephens, “Where the (blank) do you want me to go with that ball?”

I asked Arena about what seemed like a lot of confusion through the center of the pitch after the game:

“Coach, seemed like a lot of confusion in your midfield today and a lot of frustration coming with it. A lot of players throwing their hands up in the air or failing to move off the ball.”

Arena’s response? “Really? I didn’t see it. I didn’t see the gestures.”

San Jose midfielder Sam Cronin did though: “Yeah, I noticed their players getting frustrated. I think we were in good spots. They’re maybe used to getting more space, but we felt as long as they didn’t get behind us today we’d be alright.”

Cronin gave his side a “B+,” citing a good team effort for the high mark, and lack of possession which took it down from an A.

At the end of the day, a B+ effort gets San Jose a hard fought win over the league-leading Galaxy.

Other notes:

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• Asked Cronin about Cody Arnoux, his former Wake Forest teammate who recently signed the Vancouver Whitecaps:

“Yeah, I spoke with Cody, he’s excited by it (signing with Vancouver). He had a good time at Everton, but realized he wasn’t ready yet when he went over there. He’s got a good future up there and I think he’ll make it back to Europe.”

• Checked in with Ike Opara, a really nice and well-spoken player, who hobbled on crutches through the press area.

Opara on his broken foot:

“It’s coming along fine. I’m on schedule.”

On possibly missing an opportunity to join up with the USMNT when they faced Brazil:

“Aw, I’m not even thinking about that. I’m just focused on this (pointing to his injured wheel) right now.”

• TSG will be doing a profile on Chris Wondolowski shortly. If you have any questions just send them in.

• If you’re in the Bay Area and making it down to a San Jose, the team management does a great job with the facility it has and the pulled chicken sandwich is the way to go at the concession stand.

• Some comments from the TSG/Black Sox/DieHipsterBrew crew that I attended with:

• “That Gonzalez guy looks like he played the wrong sport…he should be playing rugby.”

• “Those hooligans (the “Ultras”) are so organized.”

• “De La Garza is very aggressive when he’s 1-on-1 with himself and the ball.” Um, okay

• “Mike Magee, following the lead of US nattie team strikers everywhere…”

• “Jeez…how much lemonade do they serve here? No beer, just lemonade.” (The ratio of lemonade vendors to all other vendors at the Buck is 135:1)

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13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by guti on 2010/08/22 at 7:08 AM

    How do you grade Geovanni’s debut? I thought his touches were positive, and his introduction led to some quality scoring chances. He went straight up top, but I think he’d be best as a withdrawn forward behind Wondo. Ultras were outstanding yesterday.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/22 at 7:14 AM

      I’ve got a small post coming up on Geo. He himself admitted he was woefully out of shape.

      Said he was happy playing up top.

      I think its hard to judge him obviously from yesterday. But he does have class. That was evident.

      I think he will play as you say in a withdrawn striker role. I see him coming off the wing in a 4 4 2 occasionally. Not as I mentioned in a 4 3 3 a few weeks back.

      Any other thoughts on the game?

      Reply

      • Posted by guti on 2010/08/22 at 9:15 AM

        Galaxy has to be very disappointed with that game, they lacked cohesion and failed to score against a team whose entire starting back line was out via injury or red card. I thought Convey played excellent at LB and BMac fit in well at CB. Those 3 points will go a long way in SJ’s playoff hopes.

        Quakes certainly raised their game in the Cali derby this year, has any other team taken 4 points from LA? San Jose never trailed in either game, and held the lead for 161 of 180 minutes.

        Reply

  2. Posted by dth on 2010/08/22 at 8:23 AM

    If Tristan Bowen was in any way worried about getting Wally Pipped before the game, he’s now got himself going the full ninety every single game he’s healthy for the rest of the season.

    Reply

  3. Excellent question and answer with Bruce Arena. It sounds like he didn’t learn a damn thing from his time coaching the USMNT in 2006. It’s one thing to have “coach’s blinders” on when discussing your team’s performance, but to be downright ignorant (or claiming ignorance) of an obvious and palpable frustration by your entire midfield probably won’t sit well with fans who should be wondering why the man in charge didn’t change something up to alleviate this issue.

    I have similar grievances about his formation and tactical choices back in ’06 when he left McBride stranded all alone up top after that gameplan yielded little to no success throughout the qualifying campaign nor in McBride’s club situation that year….seems like one of the best American coaches should be able to identify things like that.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/22 at 10:50 AM

      Couldn’t agree more on Arena.

      I definitely feel like he got outcoached yesterday from the initial strategy to making a series of questionable substitutions without changing the tactics.

      Not sure how Eddie Lewis is going to help on the wing to the end the game.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Mike Mc on 2010/08/22 at 6:47 PM

    Arena, and the same can be said for Bob, has ‘his guys’ and he will almost never sub them out of a game even they’re playing poorly. I’m not sure if he’s one of those coaches that likes to have players play through a slump to regain form or if he’s just stubborn.

    Michael Stephens has been a surprise, playing great in the first half of the season and he’s definitely become one of Arena’s guys. Getting to my point, Stephens’ performances have slipped the past few games and the performance of the team as a whole has followed suite.

    I’ve heard this happens to rookies coming out of college because they aren’t used to playing so many games. Clearly he needs a game or two off which could be good for the depth of the team overall if Magee gets the pt coming back from injury.

    Reply

    • I agree that all coaches have their guys. But with Arena (and Sweatpants) it seems that there’s also failure to identify when their tactics aren’t working and make the necessary changes to turn the games around. Could this be down to one of “the guyys” having an off day and thus the tactics of the entire team following suit? Absolutely. But the last two years of Arena’s USMNT (and again Bob did this too) tenure seemed more about plugging a square pegs into a round holes instead of finding the right solutions.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/23 at 12:56 PM

        Spot on Nick on Arena.

        My feeling after watching Saturday’s game in person is that Arena’s teams and himself to iterate, don’t adapt to the game they’re in.

        In reality, the Galaxy had their chances in the 2nd half and should have put some away, but that’s only because they had good players and they got through on a tired team a little more. Not because they adapted.

        Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/23 at 12:55 PM

      Mike:

      Just a note on Stephens…I think he’s a good player, but I also think he’s a product of about 4 or 5 other guys that you have to watch out for on the Galaxy:

      Juninho, Lando, Buddle, Bowen, an overlapping Franklin (okay that last one is a TSG mancrush but whatever).

      Stephens is good, but if you’re asking me a guy on LA that I’ll take my chances with him beating me…Stephens is way down that list.

      My comment sort of jives with yours…

      Reply

  5. Posted by Mike on 2010/08/23 at 2:48 PM

    Matt,
    I agree. I didn’t intend to sound like Stephens is what drives the Galaxy offense. But it seems to me like the galaxy aren’t very balanced to begin with and when Stephens isn’t having a good game it just becomes too predictable. They try and push the ball up Landon’s/Franklin’s side of the pitch all game.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/08/23 at 11:18 PM

      Didn’t think you did at all Mike.

      I think your Stephens and Galaxy points are spot on.

      Reply

  6. [...] on containing his flank–and he’s been failing to marshall his backline all season (see Wondo, confusion, the Buck in August, 1-0 [...]

    Reply

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