Late Bernardez blast helps Earthquakes beat Galaxy in West semifinal opener

BY KAYLA KNAPP

CARSON, CALIF— Victor Bernardez was the hero for the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday night, scoring on a long-range free kick to give the visitors a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy at Home Depot Center on Sunday night.

“It just shows the spirit of the team,” Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said after the win. “For an away performance with a pretty banged up squad, we’re obviously very happy with the result.”

Bernardez delivered the victory when he blasted a 30-yard free kick through the Galaxy wall and past LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who handled the deflected shot badly, letting it get past him for the vital goal.

“The important thing is it went in,” Bernardez said of the bumble by Saunders on his goal. “That’s all that really matters. I lined up the free kick to try to get a goal, and that was the result we got.”

“You’re trying to see through the wall,” Saunders said of Bernardez’s free kick. “The ball goes through the wall, deflects, takes a weird spin, and you’re trying to react based on what’s happening in front of you. My play was not acceptable. I’ll take the blame.”

The game-winning goal provided a fitting ending for the Bernardez, who had been stellar on the back-line all night against a dangerous Galaxy attack that had a number of chances throughout the match.

“Obviously, we didn’t finish off plays technically in and around the penalty area,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “It cost us the game. We were in position to get a goal or two tonight, for sure. Failed to execute the last pass or shot.”

As the two teams head back to Buck Shaw for the second leg, Yallop and his team know the second 90 minutes will be anything but easy.

“It’s halftime,” Yallop said, referring to break between the two legs of the series. “It was an even game, they shaded on chances for sure, but we’re going home now. Hopefully we can lift ourselves and have a good performance, but again, it’s halftime and we’re just going to get rested and get ready for that game.”

The late goal is a major blow for the reigning MLS Cup champions, who must now travel to San Jose for the second leg of the Western Conference semifinal and win at Buck Shaw Stadium, where the Earthquakes have not lost this season.

“It was never a game you would think that we would lose but, it was kind of one fluke play and we were a little unlucky,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said after the match. “We probably weren’t sharp enough in the offensive part of the field, but at worse we thought we’d go up there 0-0 and just have to get a goal. Now it looks like we’ve got to get two. But, it’s not over, we’ve played well there twice this year and there’s no reason why we can’t win there.”

The Galaxy created their fair share of chances on Sunday, but for much of the night they played like a tired team, the effect of having played on Thursday in a Knockout Round victory against Vancouver was clear.

San Jose dictated the pace of the match for most of the first half, where both teams wore out the grass in the middle of the pitch. A total of seven attempts on goal (with only one shot on target) between the two made for a tight first 45 minutes. Neither side seemed to find a rhythm, and despite the Galaxy’s slight edge in possession, the home team didn’t have a single shot on goal.

The second half, the Galaxy finally seemed to break the spell the Earthquakes had them under, and began to string passes together and control the pace of the match. Though, San Jose wasn’t without a few chances of their own.

The best opportunity of the night for Los Angeles came in the 85th minute, when Galaxy captain Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane combined at the top of the 18-yard box, and the Irishman pinged a rocket of a shot off the crossbar. But it was not meant to be for the Galaxy.

“We didn’t have too many great chances, but obviously unlucky with Robbie’s and probably didn’t run hard enough in front of the goal with a lot of the crosses we had,” Donovan said. “We got a number of decent chances and some good attacking play, and on Wednesday we’ve got to score.”

Fort the second leg of this Western Conference semifinal, San Jose will have the clear upper hand, with both the win and playing at home, just needing a draw to advance.

“They’re one-nil down, so they’re going to throw everything at us to try to get the equalizer and obviously try to go on and win. We know that. We’ve faced a lot of adversity all year, being the unfashionable, fouling, ugly team. But 72 goals ain’t bad for an ugly team,” Yallop said. “For me, it’s about winning. And we’ve played plenty of good football around the box. Ask our fans, they love it.”

What did you think of the match? Impressed with the Earthquakes’ defense? See the Galaxy coming back in the second leg?

Share your thoughts below.

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49 Responses to Late Bernardez blast helps Earthquakes beat Galaxy in West semifinal opener

  1. el paso tx wants NASL says:

    San jose looks like a high school varsity team trying too hard and trying to get attention.san jose really did nothing and how in the world have they won the supporters shield with that team? Wait I know how, with lucky wins and goals, galaxy and rsl have been playing up and down all season, seattle always has a tough schedule with friendlies and champions. San jose really is lucky to be on top of the west bcus if galaxy, rsl and seattle had their easy schedule, san jose would not be in the same spot.

  2. AzTeXan says:

    BEAT LA!!! BEAT LA!!!!!! BEAT LA!!!! BEAT LA!!!!!!!!!!!!! BEAT LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. E Money says:

    LA Galaxy fan in disguise

  4. SD says:

    this game was simply awful to watch….i suffered,…gave up and changed the channel and bloody sj scores late…..how frustrating…..

  5. A says:

    Surely everyone appreciates that Omar Gonzalez’s colossal defensive failure leading to a game winning goal in stoppage time is the epitome of irony.

    • WK says:

      It wasnt lost on me- have been enjoying the schadenfreude moment immensely. Twellman also wondered early in the broadcast why Gonzalez & LA would want to give the Supporter’s Shield winners any extra motivation.

      I laugh at the folks who criticize our style, while failing to realize we scored more goals, had more assists, and did it in more different ways. This team mostly adapts well to the circumstances; we knew we needed to play better D and we did. A set piece goal game-winner is fine by me.

    • beto says:

      pull that $hit with the national team and you won’t have a very long run! ask Beckerman…

  6. Old School says:

    I’d love to say what a great victory but I’m left saying what a horrible way to lose, as a non-supporter of either team.

  7. Bobb says:

    Frank Yallop is really questionable as a coach sometimes. The Earthquakes midfield just gets overrun by more talented teams. Cronin is reckless and has no creativity, Baca is decent but I think those around him have made him look good… not sure how folks like Matthew Doyle can even suggest that he get a look with the Mexican national team.
    How does Ramiro Corrales get the start ahead of both Simon Dawkins and Shea Salinas?
    They have decent wingers on the roster but the center of the midfield leaves a lot to be desired.

    • Drew from SJ says:

      Corrales got the start because Dawkins hasn’t fully recovered from his ankle injury.

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      I don’t know man, I completely disagree with all your points. Baca makes other people look good because he gets the ball to them so quickly, he buys them more time to do something successful with it. He’s a major reason for the Quakes big turnaround.

  8. Raffi says:

    I find it comical calling that goal a “blast.” As in he kicked it pretty hard? Yes, I guess so. I think call it what it was — a hopeful kick low into the wall (praying someone would jump) and Gonzalez bailed him out by jumping and Saunders somehow managed to squirt the ball under himself. Better headline: “Gonzalez and Saunders combine to gift San Jose game at HDC.” [His first free kick was a blast.]

    Not a wonderful game. Definitely felt like the Galaxy were the more likely team to score — and the only team to show any creativity at all — but really, to be fair, it wasn’t a great performance by them. San Jose played pretty good defense, the Galaxy offense was missing sharpness but still had a few reasonable quality chances. Blech.

    Going to Buckshaw and winning is going to be tough, esp. as a 3rd game in 7 days. Then again, that’s why you don’t squeak into the playoffs.

  9. Mike Vann says:

    San Jose keeps winning while others keeping talking. You can say all you want about them but the bottom line is NO ONE has stepped up to stop them. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they certainly aren’t mine, but I respect their game because they execute their game plan to perfection. They know who they are. SJ is in the driver’s seat and like it or not, their odds, at home to LA, are pretty good. People say SJ doesn’t have style and substance I think that’s wrong. Their “style” is winning by any means possible. I don’t like SJ, as they are a conference rival of my team, the Rapids, but I respect a winner.

    • ed houston says:

      i am a fan at san jose’s run this year, good for them. i find myself rooting for LA, but that can change in the next game as i will be rooting for the winner, whoever it is.

  10. Nick says:

    Sets up a great second leg. Saunders probably should have had the shot, but Bernardez shot had great pace then got deflected…doubt Saunders thought it would go low to the corner the wall was supposedly protecting. Credit to SJ for doing what they had to away from home.

  11. AngelofAL says:

    San Jose didn’t deserve to win, they play awful and play mostly defense. I not saying this as a Galaxy fan just a true lover for the game. Galaxy played well even better on the second half but you have to put the ball inside the Goal net and that what San Jose did. So congra to SJ and Galaxy now have to play way way better on San Jose home. By the way Gonzalez karma is a bitch, he criticize San Jose style of play and he give them the winning goal. When u are on line waiting for a kick you always look at the ball and react, If he should don’t that he wouldn’t know that the ball was straight on the ground and should not jump, plus the ball it was a long distance.When he jump he change the direction where the ball was going so it be can a bit tuft for the Sanders. Another thing goal keeper should caught that one. I think Omar Gonzalez was more worried to impress Jurgen Klissman than playing a good game. He did good but sometime he try to much especially with passes like Franklyn was doing just awful passes.

  12. AngelofAL says:

    Oh another look at this game. I never get it at all. Why Bruce Arena one made on Sub, took out Beckham for Buddle wow. And Buddle had a chance to finish this game and he made the wrong decision he had the whole space to look for the second post and put it there. Bruce what happen to your two other Sub. What happen to Jimenez,Stephen, the Sweden player, o the other guys. But he never did anything I just don’t know what he was thinking.

  13. Limey says:

    San Jose is to MLS what Stoke City is to the EPL. They take the beautiful game and make it the ugly game. It was embarrassing to watch all their gamesmanship with fake injuries etc. in the second half. They have had a great season (results wise) but its nasty to watch.

    • joe says:

      Really? If Donovan didn’t take a dive against Vancouver, LA would have had a hard time winning that one. Who relied on gamesmanship then?

    • XPK says:

      I’ll grant you the injury thing got tiresome, and I’ll also admit that last nights game was not a fantastically entertaining spectacle.
      Still, if someone made the argument that San Jose is to MLS what Chelsea was to last seasons UEFA Champions League, would that make a difference? If someone said that historically the USMNT made the beautiful game an ugly game, would you agree? If you watched the Arsenal vs. Man Utd game, did Arsenal look like they were playing beautiful football?
      I’ve pretty much grown tired of “the beautiful game” mythology. I don’t particularly enjoy watching Barcelona play 27 ticky tacky passes. Is that more or less beautiful than a hopeful long ball down the field to Brian McBride to hold up before laying off to another teammate?
      It’s sport. Why should we expect every game to be breathtaking, attacking football just because it’s the playoffs? Sometimes the game just isn’t that great to watch regardless of the two teams playing. Last night was one of those nights.Wednesday night may be different.

  14. d says:

    After the game, Omar Gonzalez was heard saying that the free kick was a dirty play, because Bernardez cheated by going through the wall instead of over it like he expected, otherwise he never would have jumped allowing the ball to go through. But Omar, being the standup guy that he is, didn’t contradict Saunders who took the blame for the ball taking a funny spin and getting away from him, because OG is a team player and wanted to present a united front. (ok, just kidding)

    • soccerhorn says:

      “was heard saying.” Was heard saying by whom? Could you please state your source or sources here? Haven’t seen Omar say any such thing on any media outlet. Please share.

  15. beto says:

    sucks for LA, but is anyone surprised? This is a text book SJ win. Usually its a corner, PK or some slop in the box but a deflected free kick sounds fitting. Id say its luck but you don’t win the SS with luck, they are just clutch.

    a bit similar to the SF Giants if you ask me. Not overwhelming or impressive but clutch and convert their few chances.

  16. ex_sweeper says:

    I thought the foul call looked iffy from the camera shot (why no replay, ESPN?) but kudos to Centerline soccer for a great camera shot showing Sarvas with a big handful of Dawkins’ jersey.

    link to on.fb.me

  17. Basqueman says:

    Keane’s got to finish. As simple as that.

    I was at game. Great stadium and atmosphere, pretty weak game. San Jose dreadful to watch. Come on, play soccer. Of course, Galaxy looked tired and Donovan didn’t bring his A game. Juninho is a beast. Saunders has to save that final shot, dubious foul nonwithstanding.

    People been talking about Gonzalez as US center back. I don’t see it. Simple reason: his distribution. Terrible, unfocused. Can’t do that at the next level. Arena was throwing fits on sideline.

    Neither of these teams will win the cup, but I hope Galaxy go forward as San Jose are so boring to watch.

    • Syd says:

      No. Not a lot of scoring, but this was an intense, hard-fought game. Galaxy won the midfield battle, but could not convert in the final third. All the talk about Wondo and the San Jose Offense, but it was their Defense that kept them in this game.

  18. bryan says:

    Hamid and Saunders, you’re killing me!!!

    well, hopefully DC and LA can both pull of the wins away from home.

  19. Pingback: Late Bernardez blast helps Earthquakes beat Galaxy in West semifinal opener | Haryana Tribune

  20. eric says:

    Did anyone feel Twellman’s commentary seemed a little biased against LA? All he did was talk sh!t on them as say how great a team San Jose was.

  21. Chloride Soap says:

    I find it funny how people talk about who “deserved” to win. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who deserved to win. All that matters is the final score on the scoreboard. San Jose played like it has all year, scrappy and tenacious, at times they can be sublime, but most of the time they play like “goonies”. They’ve even embraced the motto, “Goonies never say die!” Love them or hate them they get results.

    I’m convinced that if SJ weren’t the Supporters Shield winners people would be applauding them for the way their defense didn’t allow a goal on the road to LA. Besides, in the play-offs anything can happen. The regular season goes out the window. Any team can win the whole thing if they can get hot at the right moment (ex the C. Rapids).

    • Jeff Fulton says:

      As a Galaxy fan, I completely agree. San Jose played the perfect “away” game. They absorbed the pressure, got lucky on a few Galaxy goals that could have been, and came away with a goal in the last minute of stoppage. The Galaxy looked good passing the ball and setting up the chance “before the actual chance”, but only the Donovan to Keane back-heel was close to a goal.

  22. PervertedByLanguage says:

    Pretty confused by Donovan’s comments in the article, which demonstrate either a lack of respect to the Quakes or a lack of attention to their play. ““It was never a game you would think that we would lose?” “At worse we thought we’d go up there 0-0 and just have to get a goal?” Um, the Quakes did just finish an entire season with THE BEST RECORD IN THE LEAGUE, Landon, with a penchant for pulling last-minute wins out of their asses. You can certainly say what you want about the Quake’s style and penchant for end-of-game goals, but to constantly overlook them as talentless yet lucky jokers is to doom your team to another loss. Sure they don’t have three Designated Players and have a team salary that’s nearly a FIFTH of yours ($3.6 Million to $17.2 Million!), but wake up and treat ‘em with some respect, Donovan.

  23. Soccer Guy says:

    The Galaxy are sad.

    This is just about what I predicted. The only player on the Galaxy who really seems committed to winning is Mike Magee. Keane is a selfish ego maniac whose only drive comes from the desire to perform another of his sickening goal celebrations. Donovan is too busy asking for everyone’s sympathy for how sad his life is that he can’t be bothered. The selfishness and egotism on this team has spread like a cancer. Now even defenders like Omar Gonzalez are obnoxious. Gonzalez actually had the nerve to say that San Jose are a bunch of jokers who play an embarrassing style of soccer? Well, Omar, it seems to me you and the Galaxy play the embarrassing style of soccer.

    It’s pretty sad how Gonzalez couldn’t even stay still to block the free kick that San Jose scored on. I mean it’s one thing to move your face and head out of the other way, but to be afraid of having the ball strike your lower legs? Pathetic.

    Arena and the Galaxy would be much better off with lesser players who aren’t head cases. I don’t think Arena can even coach this team properly because too many of the players are bigger than he is as a coach. If the Galaxy are smart they will dump some of the Gods on the team in favor of mere mortals.

  24. dudeinho says:

    Has anyone Seen Moneyball?

    I mean it cant be a coincidence can it?

    This san Jose team is a collection of rejects and mediocre players that when put together execute the plan perfectly

    If they Win the sequel to Moneyball is going to have to be about them.