Late free kick lifts Earthquakes over Galaxy

November 5, 2012, 4:22 am
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As they have all season, the San Jose Earthquakes left itlate to find a game winner, but a winner they found, as a Victor Bernardez 35yard free kick gave the visitors a 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.With aggregate goals over the two legs of the semifinalseries determining which team will advance to the Western Conference finals,the Earthquakes will need only a draw when the two teams return to Buck ShawStadium Wednesday night to move in their march to the MLS Cup.The Galaxy were the aggressors for much of the affair, withDesignated Players Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane both having golden scoringopportunities go wanting. Meanwhile, the Earthquakes defense stayed resolutethroughout the 90 minutes, cutting down most Galaxy efforts in the attackingthird, and earned their first shutout since a 2-0 win against Chivas USA inSeptember.The Bernardez goal was the Earthquakes' ninth stoppage timegoal of the season and their sixth game winning goal scored after regulationtime had elapsed.Chris Wondolowski came close to stunning the capacity crowdat the Home Depot Center in the 2nd minute when he stabbed at a ballin the Galaxy penalty area after goalkeeper Josh Saunders and defender TommyMeyer failed to communicate on a clearance attempt, but the shot attempt wasdeflected wide of the post.A free kick opportunity for LA in the 8th minutenearly propelled the home side to the lead, as David Beckham curled anin-swinging cross into the area that split the Quakes defense, but Keane wasnot able to direct his snap header on target.The Galaxy had another pair of scoring chances go wantingduring a first half that saw them slowly assert their control over the match. A32nd minute shot from Donovan was comfortably saved by goalkeeperJon Busch and a 38th minute cross from the Galaxy captain justmissed Keane at the back post.The Earthquakes, having weathered the Galaxy storm in thefirst half, began to see their fortunes improve in the second stanza.Substitutes Simon Dawkins and Alan Gordon provided a lift to the San Jose offense, whileShea Salinas provided relief for speedster Marvin Chavez.The changes helped push the game more into the midfield, buta turnover near the center line almost proved costly for the Quakes, as Keanelatched onto a loose ball and drove toward goal. From 25 yards, the Irelandinternational fired a low, hard shot, but it was right into the grasp of Busch.Keane nearly scored in the 86th minute aftercollecting a back-pass from Donovan at the top of the area, but his shotrocketed off the crossbar after soaring over Busch.Bernardez captured the improbable win for the Earthquakes inthe 94th minute when his free kick from 35 yards eluded the defensewall and squirted out of the grasp of Saunders. The Earthquakes will carry a 1-0 aggregate lead back to BuckShaw Stadium where they will face the Galaxy Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m.

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