June 25, 2011MLSSCOREBOARD EARTHQUAKESPAGE
MATCH STATS MATCH EVENTS
SANTA CLARA Fans can usually expect rivalry gamesto have a little bit of something extra, but Saturday afternoons clash betweenthe Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy had plenty more in terms of drama, butnot so much in terms of goals. Despite playing a man up for the whole secondhalf with the Galaxy fielding an outfield player in goal, the Earthquakes werefrustrated with their inability to break down their visitors and ended upsettling for a 0-0 draw.
After an opening flurry that saw Simon Dawkins hit the postand the Earthquakes end up with a series of point blank shots that were denied,the team could not find a way through a resolute Los Angeles defense. Nonetheless, theEarthquakes were largely effective in denying Los Angeles space and continuing to pressurethe Galaxys back line. I thought we played probably the best weve played firsthalf, not all season, but for a long time, Yallop said. We played reallywell, had our chances to score, didnt quite put it in the net. Although those in the stadium wouldnt realize it at thetime, the injury of Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts would help set up one ofthe more bizarre situations MLS has seen this season. Ricketts collided withfellow Jamaican national Khari Stephenson going up for a ball in the box in the21st minute and was replaced by backup goalkeeper Josh Saunders.The proceedings continued without incident until the 43rdminute, until a clash between Earthquakes striker Steven Lenhart and Saundersleft the Galaxy down a man and without a goalkeeper. Lenhart pressured Saundersas he collected a routine ball out of the area, but then attempted to head theball out of Saunders hands, which would eventually result in a yellow cardfrom referee Juan Guzman. Saunders picked the ball up and retaliated with ablow to Lenharts face, resulting in a red card for Saunders.Lenhart refused to talk about the incident initially, thoughhe did say there was contact between him and Saunders, Yeah, he caught me.With Ricketts injury, the Galaxy were left without agoalkeeper, forcing Galaxy coach Bruce Arena to utilize midfielder Mike Mageeas makeshift goalkeeper. Despite using a player with little to no experience ingoal and playing a man down, Los Angeles was able to hold firm in the back, largelyprotecting Magee from any serious work.Their game plan in the second half worked and ours didntreally, Yallop explained.We tried to get shots off. For some reason it was a bitsticky this afternoon, it wasnt an easy task to get a shot in the middle ofgoal because I thought the box of four LA had in the middle did a good job ofblocking everything and making it difficult.Busch, though he lamented the teams ability to move theball effectively enough, also saw the game as evidence for the Galaxys successso far in 2011, with the team comfortably positioned on the top of the WesternConference.Credit to LA, thats why theyre top of the table. Thatswhy theyre successful defensively, they get in their blocks and theyre hardto break down, Busch said.Despite the Galaxys defensive resilience, Lenhart did findhimself through on goal in the dying minutes of the game. However, Magee gotdown well to turn his effort around the post, the only serious test he facedapart from a few softly struck long range efforts.I shouldve done better, I shouldve scored, admittedLenhart, after the game. I tried to go back across the goal, I shouldve putit near post. While the end result was certainly not the one the team orfans expected, given the circumstances of the second half, Yallop saw littlecause for concern.You can work on things and the guys are kind of just goingto put this one away, look forward to next weekend.For more Earthquakes, MLS and soccer musings, youcan follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano