CARSON, Calif. — When the San Jose Earthquakes beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 just two weeks ago at Stanford Stadium, head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto brushed it off and said he didn’t think the opposition was much better than his side. In Friday’s rematch at Dignity Health Sports Park, there was no doubt who the better team was as the visitors impressively rolled to a 3-1 win over the Galaxy.
Keeper David Bingham finished with a career-high 14 saves, stopping the rivalry match from becoming a true blood bath.
“It’s very difficult to analyze the goalie today because he had a great game but the team lost,” said Schelotto. “I think the problem for us is two weeks ago we lost with San Jose and today we couldn’t figure it out.”
Defender Rolf Feltscher put away the opening goal off a corner kick just two minutes in, but that turned irrelevant faster than Jonathan dos Santos sprinting 50 yards upfield carving through defenders. For about 20 minutes the Galaxy seemed like they had the right plan in place to avoid another embarrassment. In the latter part of the first half the game changed drastically. Nothing specifically challenged Los Angeles, it was just outplayed in every sense of the word.
San Jose relentlessly kept poking at Bingham throughout, finishing the first frame with 14 shots, six on net, while the Galaxy only mustered up a pair. Cristian Espinoza ran wild on the right side, impressively taking on countless defenders with fancy footwork and creating options. It was only a matter of time for the Earthquakes and all it took were three minutes in the second half to put their stamp on another Cali Clasico.
Valeri “Vako” Qazaishvili went off, scoring the equalizer in the 61st minute and playing a part in the other two goals. For the Earthquakes’ opener he danced past Dos Santos before ripping a low shot from distance and tucking it near the post. Then he took on Feltscher in the box and dropped an easy pass to Danny Hoesen, who had just been subbed in, picking up an assist and asserting complete control for the away side.
A Vako shot in the 85th minute resulted in a juicy rebound and Jackson Yueill’s dagger.
“During games like that, you have to sometimes improvise and try to fix the problem,” explained Joe Corona. “We had a great start with the quick goal, and the first 15-20 minutes we had the ball, but after that I think the team didn’t play how we trained and it showed. The whole team is very disappointed, I think we really have to analyze the game and see what went wrong.”
The lingering issue for the Galaxy remains are they good enough beyond just their fearless captain? Zlatan Ibrahimovic was held without a shot in the frustrating loss. He was off the field and disappeared into the tunnel no longer than 15 seconds after the final whistle. And as media slowly settled into the locker room, we got word he was no longer even in the building.
Nobody is trying to blow a July loss out of proportion, but the numbers are there. Of the 27 goals Los Angeles has scored this season, 13 of those are Zlatan’s. They’ve now lost four of their last five home games. The standings still have the Galaxy sitting in second place of the Western Conference, a seat they’ve occupied for some time now, but that could be changing soon as teams like San Jose and Minnesota United keep racking up points.
After winning the first Cali Clasico at home, Earthquakes defender Tommy Thompson brushed off Schelotto’s comments by saying, “there’s always a scoreboard.” That board reads 6-1 after two games against the Galaxy. A rivalry should always bring out the best of both squads but this couldn’t be more one-sided. A win or even a draw would’ve gone a long way in preparing for next week. The result, instead, was about as bad as it could get.
“This game is now past and we have a very important game coming. We have to be ready for that,” said a visibly frustrated Feltscher.
Speaking of rivalries, you better believe LAFC is coming into Carson with a head full of steam Friday seeking their first El Trafico victory. We know exactly what Bob Bradley’s MLS-leading side will bring to the table. The question is what Galaxy team will show up?
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