Penedo’s stellar saves help Galaxy clinch playoff berth in tie vs. Earthquakes

Jaime Penedo

By MARC SERBER

CARSON, California- The LA Galaxy clinched a spot in the postseason for the fifth consecutive season and all but mathematically eliminated the San Jose Earthquakes with a 0-0 draw in front of 25,418 fans at the StubHub Center.

“It was a hard fought contest. Kind of like a playoff atmosphere,” Bruce Arena said in his press conference. “San Jose played a good game, the kind of game we’d thought they’d play and in the end it’s probably a fair result.”

Despite reaching the postseason for the 15th time in the club’s history, Arena and his charges left the StubHub center with a bad taste in their mouths as the Galaxy lost a chance to finish on top of the Western conference and are no longer in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.

In fact, the Galaxy now need at least a draw in Seattle and a Colorado Rapids tie or loss to avoid playing in the knockout round.

Nevertheless, LA had its goalkeeper to thank after Jaime Penedo made two spectacular saves in the first half to keep San Jose off the board. LA now has three straight shutouts and has gone 308 minutes without conceding.

Penedo, a Panamanian international, stamped his authority on the match in the 27th and 41st minutes to deny first Steven Lenhart and then Chris Wondolowski with sensational flying saves to deny free headers from point blank range.

The first half was marked by intriguing individual matches all over the field. LA’s rookie central defender, Kofi Opare did a good job to win the physical battle with Lenhart.

The real focus of the CaliClassico though was on the flanks where San Jose’s Cordell Cato battled with the young Greg Cochrane, while on the other flank, Sean Franklin duled with Shea Salinas, who was San Jose’s biggest threat on the night.

At the other end Jordan Stewart had the pace to match Gyasi Zardes step for step.

Zardes still broke free in the 23rd minute as his diagonal run took him to the byline before sending a cross that sailed just over the head of Landon Donovan who came within inches of breaking Jeff Cunningham’s all time MLS Scoring Record.

Donovan had another chance for goal number 135 when he scoped his shot over Jon Busch, but over the crossbar as well.

The second half was a more open affair. San Jose had no other option but to go for broke and each Earthquake attack had the potential to be matched by the Galaxy on the counter as the visitors threw bodies forward.

Zardes and Donovan switched positions to begin the second half and the move almost paid dividends. The rookie from nearby Hawthorne led the break and fed the ball in for a cutting Donovan who put it towards the back post for Robbie Keane, but Clarence Goodson got an important touch.

Just after the hour mark, Salinas got the better of Franklin before pulling the ball back to Lenhart, but the forward collided with two Galaxy defenders while Penedo bravely came off his line to punch away.

Ten minutes earlier Victor Bernardez took down a streaking Landon Donovan from behind. While the Honduran international was shown a yellow card, the foul seemed to re-aggravate Donovan’s ankle injury.

The former Earthquake was no longer cutting or making the dashing runs with the same zest he had shown earlier in the match and it was perhaps most telling in the 89th minute.

As San Jose threw everyone forward, the Galaxy broke the other way with Donovan and Keane finding themselves in a 2 v. 1 with Earthquake substitute Walter Martinez. Donovan elected to float the ball over to Keane when it looked like he had a clear path to goal and Martinez was able to make the crucial intervention.

“If we had been a bit more clever in the last 15 minutes on the counter attack we could have scored a couple of goals.” Keane lamented in the Galaxy locker room. “They [San Jose] were gung ho to throw everybody on and get balls into the box and if we just waited half a second, a second more, had a bit more composure, we would have got a goal.”

The Galaxy had one more oppertunity to steal all three points with shouts for a penalty in stoppage time falling on deaf ears. Zardes raced into the box but went down under the challenge of Martinez. Referee Baldomero Toledo was not to be persuaded by a very angry Galaxy crowd or a furious Martinez who claimed Zardes went to ground too easily.

“I confronted him [Martinez] after,” Zardes told the media in the locker room after the game, “and said ‘hey was it a PK?’ He said, ‘yea I hit you, but it was a soft contact. As long as you make soft contact I thought it was a PK. I mean the Ref should call it right?”

As Arena said though, a draw was probably a fair result and the Galaxy still have it all to do while San Jose’s match with FC Dallas is now nothing but a farewell to a disappointing 2013.

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14 Responses to Penedo’s stellar saves help Galaxy clinch playoff berth in tie vs. Earthquakes

  1. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    The non PK going the other way was a much harder hit, I think it was Salinas……the ref called a consistant game.

    Great games, can hardly wait for the playoffs to start.

    • Nick in LA says:

      I was right behind the goal on that one and Salinas had little to no contact with anyone but the ball and took a dive. And Toledo is probably the worst ref in a league of bad refs. He was calling fouls that were minor and ignoring elbows and other professional fouls, but that’s what you get when you play San Jose.

  2. Limey says:

    It was definately a “playoff” atmosphere, the two goalkeepers were the stars of the show. I think what was missing was a flash of individual brilliance from any of the outfield players. Good game!

  3. Ian says:

    Penedo was huge all night. The Galaxy looked sluggish. Really wish they’d got a goal to avoid this last minute “must draw and COL must draw or lose business.”

  4. swift says:

    Even though there were no goals it was an exciting game to the end. Good year for the Quakes. It’s going to be an interesting off season!

    • ex_sweeper says:

      It will be a stern test of Wolff’s willingness to shell out for quality players without the added stadium revenue. Potential losses: Bernardez, Beitashour, Baca (all in the last year of their contracts and will expect a hefty raise). With our relatively highly paid back line (Goodson, Hernandez, Stewart), I can’t see us keeping more than one of them. I’d say do whatever we can to keep Bernardez. Beita will likely want to test the waters overseas at this point in his career, and a better midfield ball-handler and scorer than Baca would help the team greatly.

  5. dissapointed in my G’s.Thought they played un intrested from the opening whistle. Our full back play was awful. We need to get another right back to push sean franklin because it seems like hes’s steadily regressed since last season. On a side note i thought last night Robbie Rogers had the perfect opportunity to come in and show that he isnt a bust and completely laid an egg.

    • Gary Page says:

      I’m afraid that Galaxy fans will be ruing the trade of Magee for Rogers for a long time. I didn’t understand it then and still don’t.

      • Nick in LA says:

        That’s because it wasn’t a trade. Magee wanted to go to Chicago. We were going to give them Jimenez and they were going to like it. Once Mike heard that someone needed to go to Chicago, he told the FO that he was going and probably let the Chicago FO know as well. Therefore, we had to get rid of him or have a disgruntled player for the rest of the year.

        • Steevens says:

          Wow that is a whole lot of spin on the situation.

          I am not aware of any real reports that Jimenez was in line to go to CHI but did not because Magee stepped in.

          It is true that Magee offered to go to CHI, but to say “he told the FO that he was going and probably let the Chicago FO know as well” is dramatically different from any reputable reports on the subject.

          It was a trade. The LA FO knew they needed to trade something/someone to CHI, and had a player offer to go. The LA FO seems to have accepted that offer without any effort to change Magee’s mind. The LA FO and all LA fans are now pretending that’s not the way it happened.

          • Ian says:

            Maybe the LA FO is pushing that narrative now, but I’ve heard very few LA fans buy it. From day one I believed Mike Magee was a casualty of the trade, not an active participant, and he certainly was not asking to go to Chicago before Rogers showed up.

            Seems to me that MLS brass or Chris Klein or someone higher up than Bruce Arena made the decision that Robbie Rogers was joining the Galaxy and someone needed to go. Magee obviously saw the silver lining in moving, but without Rogers forcing his way onto the roster (or rather being forced onto it), there’s no way Magee goes to Chicago.

            Look at it from Arena’s perspective: Proven clutch goal-scorer for an injury-prone, out-of-form winger. What experienced manager voluntarily makes that trade? I suspect Arena’s hand was forced.

          • Limey says:

            Well Nick in LA called it exactly as I had except the Jimenez part, I actually don’t think the Galaxy wanted to give even that much for RR but when Magee jumped up and said “I want to go’ any negotiating power LA had was gone, end of story.

            People really need to get over this, It’s not a story and there was no one on the grassy knoll.

  6. Soccerhorn says:

    Probably two blown calls by Toledo late in the match. Guy looked like the last thing he wanted to do was have a hand in determining the Western Conference Championship. Lenhart probably could have tried to rip Omar’s head off, and Toledo was going to eat his whistle no matter what.

    That said, it was a tame game compared to most California Classico bloodbaths. Even Chief Goon Lenhart seemed to actually be interested in playing some soccer last night. Probably to his team’s demise. And that, readers, is what the call irony.