Keane double helps Galaxy eliminate Earthquakes

BY KAYLA KNAPP

SAN JOSE, CALIF.—Red-hot striker Robbie Keane scored twice as the Los Angeles Galaxy knocked the San Jose Earthquakes out of the MLS playoffs on Wednesday night.

The Supporters’ Shield winners fell flat in their most important match of the year — crashing out of the playoffs far earlier than anyone expected. But Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena wasn’t the least bit surprised by his side’s performance.

“We’ve been real good since July. We actually were pretty comfortable that we could come in here and win. We were confident about that. We certainly screwed up the other night at home,” Arena said after the win. “Actually, the game the other night gave us the confidence that we could come in here and win because we felt that it was a good matchup for us.”

It was the Earthquakes’ first loss at Buck Shaw stadium this season — a small, intimate venue that has been their fortress all season.

“It’s amazing,” Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez said after the win. “They did well during the year, but they couldn’t pull it off tonight. It felt great to hear that whistle blow, and just to finally be over with those guys. We came out on top, and I thought that they fought well. But they just couldn’t pull it off tonight.”

“We hadn’t beat this team all season, but we obviously beat them when it matters,” David Beckham said. “We knew that we were coming here with confidence. Of course, losing the first game is not ideal preparation, but we won the one that matters.”

The Galaxy will now face either the Seattle Sounders or Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference finals on Sunday night.

One of the biggest moments of the night came when San Jose defender Victor Bernardez had to be subbed off in the 12th minute with a right knee sprain. He had been the glue holding the Earthquakes defense together, and upon his exit the San Jose backline became unhinged.

Keane opened the scoring in the 21st minute, when Bernardez’s replacement Ike Opara didn’t step up to his dribble. Keane hit a rocket of a shot, beating Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch to his left. It pinged off the post and into the back of the net, giving Los Angeles a 1-0 lead.

“We were smart,” Arena said of his squad, particularly in the first half. “We were strong in the early going, yet patient and the first goal was obviously important. The second goal, I think San Jose put their heads down, and the third goal obviously was a killer.”

That second goal came when Landon Donovan – who looked much more lively than he did on Sunday – received a great pass from defender Tommy Meyer. He then slotted a perfect ball through to Keane, who turned the corner on Busch and finished into the back of the net. In the 34th minute, it was 2-0 in favor of Los Angeles.

It only took five minutes for the defending champs to strike again, as they continuously put pressure on the Earthquakes struggling backline. It was Donovan again with the assist, this time crossing the ball to Mike Magee. The post-season clutch-man finished the pass calmly and coolly past Busch.

Down 3-0 before halftime, the outlook was bleak for San Jose. But this is the club that has mastered the late-game comeback – surely they had at least a goal in them.

And when the Earthquakes brought on Alan Gordon, their go-to striker for just these types of matches, the fans at Buck Shaw started to get loud again.

Gordon came through with a goal in the 82nd minute, but it was too little too late. Opara could have saved the Earthquakes season in stoppage time, after he was wide open with the ball in the middle of the penalty box, but skied his shot.

“We just had to stay strong, stay together because they was always going to have a chance to score,” Beckham said of the minutes following Gordon’s goal. “Funnily enough, [Gordon] always seems to score against us, and against his teams he’s played for. So he’s always going to be a threat. But we showed a lot of character in the last eight minutes.”

One of the biggest factors in the Galaxy win was the performance of center backs Tommy Meyer and Gonzalez. The two put in an excellent 90 minutes, and their teammates couldn’t have been happier with their showing on the night.

“The two center backs were great,” Donovan said. “Tommy [Meyer] became a man tonight. We’re going to need that, at least two more times, hopefully three more times, out of him. If he plays like that, we’ve got a good chance.”

The Galaxy move on the Western Conference finals, while the 2012 Supporters’ Shield winners see their season ended abruptly.

“We have guys that are champions on this team, and they know how to respond when things go against you,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said after the win. “I thought we were terrific throughout the game. If we were a little better, we could have scored a lot of goals tonight. I think it helps us a lot going into Sunday.”

The Galaxy will face either the Seattle Sounders or Real Salt Lake at the Home Depot Center on Sunday night in the first leg of the Western Conference finals.

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77 Responses to Keane double helps Galaxy eliminate Earthquakes

  1. Gnarls says:

    It was beautiful. The win put a tear in my eye, but then I saw Wondo crying and that put a smile on my face.

  2. Dennis says:

    Headlines for Keane, but it was Magee’s goal won it for the Galaxy

  3. chris_thebassplayer says:

    What a cruel twist of fate. The one player the Quakes could ill afford to lose goes down 12 freaking minutes into the game. LA completely exploits Opara for 3 goals in a mere 19 minutes. He fails to close Keane on the first… he doesn’t read the play and mark Keane on the slip pass on the second goal…and he is late to close on Magee on the third…a horrific shambles in the middle of the D…Congrats to LA, it was clear from the first 10 minutes that they were going to be a handful…Keane was pure class. We couldn’t put a couple point blank shots on frame, when you do that against a quality side you usually wind up getting bounced. I guarantee the Quakes will be looking for another high level CB to pair with Bernardez in the off season… what an empty awful way to end the season for a diehard fan.

    • Bobb says:

      I have been saying it for years: Ike Opara = a baby deer

    • Gary Page says:

      It was kind of like when Bornstein had to be subbed in for Cherundolo in that Gold Cup final against Mexico, only not quite as bad.

    • Josh D says:

      Funny how some still think Opara will develop into a notable defender. His earlier injuries coupled with his lack of defending IQ means he’ll be a great physical defender for years to come, but making that leap to the national team takes more than physicality these days.

      I just don’t see it anymore. When he first came into the league, I thought he’d be a star.

  4. Bobb says:

    Ike Opara: not as good as Victor Bernardez.

    Baca had an off game. As did Wondo. Cronin just isn’t very good. Gordon needed to be in for longer than 20 minutes. Wondo isn’t getting $1 million a year if he passes the ball to Ike freaking Opara of all people to take the most important shot of the night….

    Donovan and Keane were incredible. Prediction: not only does Donovan play a major role in Brazil 2014, but he even makes the Russia 2018 roster. And by that time he will have put caps, goals + assists out of reach for the remainder of our lifetimes.

    • matt says:

      Gordon had an injured ankle which is why he had such limited time

    • PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

      The pass to Opara was the correct move, Opara missed it Think back, Wondo missed more than a couple himself.

      The Galaxy has been the ‘better’ team all year against the Quakes, they had given up 4 set piece goals, nothing in the run of play until last night. We’d been saying how ‘lucky’ the Quakes had been and that luck ran out.

      Should be Seattle tonight and a Sounder/Galaxy Western final sound appetizing. .

  5. bizzy says:

    Donovan played on the left last game now back on the right, created both assists that won the game
    Zusi played on the right last game then on the left (Donovan and Zusi on the field for the USMNT??)
    Alan Gordon come off the bench for SJ??? Off the bench?? wow….
    Wondo missing chances like his life depended on it, lost his nerves in a game that was on the table for the taking…..a man who found the back of the net 27 times this season had 3 open chances
    Victor Bernardez (Mr. HOTSHOT) injured in the 12th minute with a right knee sprain, how unlucky can SJ be
    Robbie Keane plays one the best games of his MLS career at a time when SJ have Opara in Defense

  6. el paso tx wants NASL says:

    I said it before and ill say it again-san jose has nothing and they where lucky they won the supporters shield and that is because los angeles, rsl, sounders had tough schedules with mls, champions, friendlies. San jose has no depth, lenhart is a joke and wondo acts like kid,well actually lenhart and wondo act like kids and gordon deserves to start. I see rsl vs lag in west championship and see rsl going foward, just because they close and their stadium is a mad house. For the east, dc united will go to mls cup vs rsl. I might sound crazy but rsl will kill sounders at home and they own galaxy at home, and dc is full of energy and they play better soccer than dynamo and red bull.

  7. Dan in New York says:

    Very similar scoreline/scenario to when the Quakes ousted the Red Bulls from the playoffs two years ago.

  8. ed houston says:

    i am not surprised LA moves on but i sure was rooting for SJ.

  9. BrianK says:

    So,…does anyone have questions as to his the MVP is? Not Wondo. A certain Irishman,…perhaps?

    I have to laugh at the MLS playoffs. Top two seeds are eliminated. RBNY has a decent shot of eliminating 3rd overall seed (DCU) tonight (in spite of Rafa Marquez’s stench). So what is the point of the regular season?

    Nevertheless, can’t see RBNY or DCU getting past Houston. While Seattle and RSL may have something to say out West,….I can’t help but feel we are going to see LA v. Houston.

    • JRP says:

      He can’t get the MVP until he stops acting like a jack ass every time he scores a goal. Seriously, his celebration is unbearable to watch time after time. I would understand doing that if that particular goal won you the cup. Every time is annoying.

      • Gnarls says:

        You’re just salty. He’s been doing that his entire career.

        • JRP says:

          My three year old has been picking his nose his whole life but that doesn’t make it right.

          • josh says:

            That’s funny. But if you can’t see the irony in a bad cartwheel and a somersault, you are missing the point.

          • whoop-whoop says:

            It’s all a matter of perspective… I’ll take a wild guess and say the source of your irritation is a dislike for the Galaxy. Be honest… if your 3 year old picked his nose every time he’d just s h a t a bar of gold, you’d think his nose picking was cute and encourage it. Players are superstitious as can be…. score a goal in a jock strap and they’d wear it the rest of their life without a wash if it works.

            • Gnarls says:

              ^this.

            • JRP says:

              He is paid to score goals. He isn’t extracting gold bricks out his sphincter. He is doing his job. And he is damn good at it. Scoring the most talented goals (comparatively) in the league. Certainly, many of the most attractive goals. I am not a Galaxy hater. And I am not the only person that thinks it is annoying.

              • whoop-whoop says:

                I’m thinking SJ would’ve taken a few of those goals over gold bricks last night and and shamefully celebrated them too.

        • chris_thebassplayer says:

          Having grown up in a household of Elvis fans, I don’t mind it at all. When he first started doing the celebration, it was a lot more Elvis Vegas style… with shaking kung fu hands. He’s toned down the hands…sucked to see it last night though.

    • Gnarls says:

      I’m biased, but I certainly believe Keane is the MVP of the league. When it comes to pure quality, Keane has Wondo beat in spades. Wondo is a poacher and an opportunist. He’s effective, obviously. Keane is a maestro and a creator. He’s on another level.

      • JRP says:

        What about the first half of the season. Who has the time to look up his goal stats in the first 15 games when Galaxy sucked it up? Definitely the MVP of the second half of the season, but the award is for the year.

        • beachbum says:

          Early in the season the Galaxy stud CB was out…the problem. Just look how poorly SJ played without their stud CB. It affects everyone’s belief on the team, not so easy to overcome.

          • JRP says:

            Right. But MVPs overcome trials to BECOME the most valuable player.

            • Gnarls says:

              I would say that’s exactly what Keano did. As you said, he and the team were sucking it up until the Euros. Keane came back a new man and scored 16 goals in 19 games (plus 2 in the playoffs and 1 in CCL). That is overcoming trials – the trial of starting the season with 9 losses.

              • JRP says:

                How is having three DPs and being the defending MLS champs and having ONE injured player a trial?
                I know you are G for the Gs but come on.

              • beachbum says:

                JRP, if you don’t understand the impact of losing arguably the best defender in MLS and arguably the best CB, and how that impacts any team, you simply don’t understand the game very well.

            • Gnarls says:

              That’s why I prefaced with, “I’m biased, but…”

            • beachbum says:

              which is what they’ve done. you’re a little too uptight about Keane, my opinion.

      • Limey says:

        Keane’s not the MVP of the Galaxy, never mind the leagues. I doubt he make the top tem in the league.

    • bryan says:

      DC was the #2 seed! even though we got the scheduling as a #3 seed due to Sandy.

    • solles says:

      If it’s not Wondo I’ll blame the republicans for stealing the election. Seriously, who else could it possibly be?

  10. The Imperative Voice says:

    I kind of thought this would happen. Arena is the Western equivalent of Kinnear. His teams show up prepared and pursue results (and tend to have a little better offenses than the Dynamo FWIW). SJ just seemed to me to be a mythical creature, one of those regular season juggernauts that plays better than the sum of the individual parts. Wondo? Lenhart? Gordon? Opara? etc. Which is why I thought in a knife fight a team with better talent in spots like LA (Keane, Donovan, et al.) could take them. It’s more like half-court soccer and teams show up in cooler weather more prepared to play each game.

  11. Limey says:

    San Jose = Stoke City
    LA Galaxy = Chelsea
    Donavon & Keane = Rooney & Van Persie

    • JRP says:

      Please don’t compare Landycakes to Rooney. They couldn’t be more dissimilar in style and personality.

      • Limey says:

        The forward that now plays deeper laying off little flicks and pinpoint defense splitting passes? You’re right no similarity at all. BTW have you seen their hairlines? Wait havn’t they both played for Everton? I must be thinking of someone else.

      • solles says:

        but but they’re both bald!

  12. Tee Times Available says:

    Enjoy the off season You chokers!

  13. Dainja says:

    Oh Ike. Seeing his performance last night just brought back PTSD-like memories of the Olympic qualifying disaster. You’d think his awful performance then would’ve caused him to re-committ to toughening up, improving his concentration, etc. But last night? EVEN WORSE. And i’ve got nothing personal against him. I”m just a USMNT fan that thought this guy was gonna be somethign special for us after half of his rookie season. But since then? Shambles, as the Brits say. its a shame.

  14. beachbum says:

    Losing Bernardez was huge blow. Wondo sky balling his first chance set a bad tone and SJ could not recover. Seemed to lose belief when Bernardez went down. It’s tough to lose your stud CB and not leak goals. Feel bad for Opara, he really struggled. The Galaxy gave the physicality to Chavez and Lenhart the way SJ likes to give it and neither responded well to it.

    • PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

      I don’t think Opara struggled as much as is being portrayed. Keanes first goal – through his legs as he attempted to block it, Perhaps too much room…but he had just come in cold. Blame that on Bermudez and Yallop…and the genius /hot hand of Keane.
      2nd goal….classy, classy play by Donovan and a Striker that knows what to do with the ball.
      3rd goal…Mr November! As Opara is where he is supposed to be.

      Just don’t see it so much as Opara as much the balls going in to the net that were banging off the posts in the previous games.

      • beachbum says:

        We disagree on Opara, he struggled mightily. Perhaps the greatest impact was the confidence LA seemed to gain when Bernardez went down and the belief loss SJ experienced at the same time.

        • chris_thebassplayer says:

          I agree, losing Bernardez was a crusher. Opara’s lack of awareness on the first and second goals was appalling. Initially I thought he shared some blame for the third but after seeing the replay he was deep marking Buddle. Dawkins went to sleep on LD and tuned out of the play. A handful of Quakes were on auto-pilot and dispirited with Opara playing so poorly, Dawkins especially. It was plain to see, just going through the motions until Gordon came on. Dawkins always cheats high and struggles to get back on D…LD was constantly getting behind him on counters, very bad matchup for the Quakes..

  15. Vinz Clortho says:

    Very impressed with LA’s effort and composure. As an RSL I am hopeful (as long as they win tonight).

    My reasons:
    RSL matches up better with LA than they have this year vs SJ
    LA had the play in game -fatigue
    Return leg would be at the RioT i.e. elevation and colder weather…
    Revenge for last year’s playoff loss

    • Limey says:

      If that matchup happens You should be hopeful, just not for any of the reasons you stated. BTW Seattle wins tonight.

    • Limey says:

      If that matchup happens You should be hopeful, just not for any of the reasons you stated. BTW Seattle wins tonight.

  16. DS says:

    Losing Bernardez was bad, but I am surprised nobody is calling Yallop’s poor strategy out.

    The entire first half was long balls to Lenhart, who was completely overshadowed by Gonzalez; to make it worse, he turned into (always was?) a distraction, getting into silly fouls and a caution. The Quakes came out with a much better game in the second half with the ball on the ground.

    Yallop’s stupidity amazes me — this is the same team forward tandem that couldn’t beat Gonzalez and the LA defense in Game 1 (until a stoppage time header by Bernardez) — why did he think they could do it this time around? Smaller stadium/field also means more crowded 18-yd box. Yallop and co severely underestimated Gonzalez.

    On the attack, while the Galaxy played a crisp 1- and 2-touch game, Quakes midfielders and full backs needed 3 or 4 touches even to settle the ball most of the time – just not going to cut it.

    Oh, and Sam Cronin is a joke.

    • PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

      Yup…what he said.
      And it wasn’t just the first leg….look at the previous regular season games….goals from set pieces to win. That was it….
      Arena starting Buddle was what was needed to battle with the bruisers of SJ, kudos to Coach Arena for that call.

    • Limey says:

      That’s crazy, it’s amazing how much Yallop got out of that bunch of misfits. He’s coach of the year for my money, you were outplayed by far superior players who don’t give 100% every game but were on for one half last night? Don’t blame your coach for that, Lenhart was the same player he’s been all season, he’s out of his depth in MLS.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      I think part of it is LA was pressing high in the first half, like they did in the regular season 2-2 tie. Quakes mids and backs didn’t deal with pressure well resorting to long balls. In the second half LA sat much deeper enabling the Quakes mids to maintain more possession. Quakes needed much better play from Baca and Cronin in the first half. I think Yallop was as surprised as anyone with the borderline flat subdued performance from the mids.

      • DS says:

        Very astute point. The high pressing in the small field was brutal to the Quakes, and their “moneyball” players did not have the technical quality to handle it well.

    • QuakerOtis says:

      Yeah, pretty much.

  17. Gary Page says:

    It was good to see Donovan back to his old self last night–quick, bright and accurate with his passes. Just hope he can stay healthy through all the US games in the Hex and through Brazil 2014. He really can be a difference maker. As a Galaxy fan, there is one thing that disappointed me. In the last 10 to 15 minutes they played stupid football.While I can understand their desire to get a killer goal on a counter, too often they made long passes that had no chance of success. I can’t believe Arena didn’t want them to play more possession football during that time period. They really should have killed the game off much better. And Wilhelmson, who has looked pretty good in the past, missed 3 golden opportunities. After the first 2, don’t know why Keane teed him up for a third try when he could have gotten a good shot off. Fortunately, they had enough of a cushion to hold on, but they need to do better with the lead if they want to repeat as champs.

  18. josh says:

    I was really impressed by Gonzales in both legs of the series. He continually won the battles in the box, and was so unaffected by any gamesmanship from the SJ forwards that it seemed like they were getting frustrated at their inability to provoke him. I think that if Lenhart and co. don’t feel like they are getting the better of you, they lose confidence.

  19. primoone says:

    san Jose…ultras…wondo… lenhardt…goonies

    Riiiiiiiiiight….

  20. WK says:

    SJ had a GREAT season and the six months of joy was awesome, but lasst nite hurt for sure. Losing Bernardez was a killer and agree that Opara just hasnt panned out. Who would’ve thought that Alan Gordon in 2012 would be SJ’s most reliable striker come crunch time? His not being fit was just as bad as losing Big Vic. But no excuses- LA deserved it based almost entirely on Keane- he’s whiny and and aggravating but a great player.

    As a USMNT fan also, kudos to Gonzalez & Donovan for stepping up their game after a big letdown in game 1- this bodes well for them and the US in 2013.

  21. Chuck says:

    This sucks! It’s Moneyball all over again :(

  22. QuakerOtis says:

    Congrats to Arena and the well prepared, talented, and savvy LA Galaxy.

    A few things I would add about the Quakes’ game, in no particular order:

    1. To me, Wondo appeared to unravel during the potential record-breaking game against Portland. The chase went to his head, and his focus suffered. Stop trying to be Falcao and just taaaaap it in.

    2. I don’t care how tired Baca might have been (only reason I see him leaving, unless there was an injury I missed), we need him more than Cronin. As dominant as Gonzalez was in the air, Cronin did even more to kill SJ’s attack. I’m still not sure why Yallop would — when 3 goals down in the second half at the potential end of our season — take off one of our best transition passers and leave on a *cough* “destroyer” who was clearly having an off night. Worst move by Yallop of the night, except that…

    3. Hey Quakes, it’s called STEPPING TO THE BALL!!! Not doing it burned the Nats several times in WC 2010, and this same “hands off” zone around the 22 yard mark set up 2 of the 3 goals for LA. LA has class for sure, but maybe we eliminate one of those Keane goals if we quit ball watching.

    4. Last but not least… Yallop was outcoahed. The lack of comprehensive game prep was as evident as our “attack” one dimensional. For all the differences between the players, Arena v. Yallop was the crucial difference in my eyes.

    But hey, we’ll get’em next year. Go Quakes.