The San Jose Earthquakes won the Cali Clasico rubber-match versus So-Cal rivals L.A. Galaxy at the StubHub Center to keep pace with Vancouver, RSL, Houston, and FC Dallas for a playoff spot. The 3-0 win moved the Quakes up to sixth place overall in the West and tied with FC Dallas (the Quakes own the first tie-break with 10 overall wins on the season). The Galaxy have lost nine of their last ten, and have just one point out of a possible 30 during their current 10-game winless streak.
The Quakes knocked the wind out of the L.A. Galaxy late in the first half with a stoppage-time corner from Shea Salinas finding DP Vako, who sent home the eventual game-winner. It was Vako’s third goal of the year.
The Quakes tacked on two late goals to seal the win as the defense pitched its second shutout under head coach Chris Leitch’s tenure. Marco Urena redeemed himself from an inexplicable first-half miss to score the Quakes’ second at 80′. Quakes captain/forward Chris Wondolowski broke the MLS all-time road goals record with 64 when he netted his 11th of the season at 90+3′; Wondo sits 13 goals behind Landon Donovan for the overall goals-scored record.
San Jose held the edge in shots (19-14), shots on target (11-3), chances created (7-1), key passes (16-10), and corners (9-4).
The key to Sunday’s victory was shot conversion. Going into Sunday’s match, the Quakes had just a 29.2% shot conversion rate, which ranked last in MLS. The kinks must have been addressed as San Jose converted 11 of their 19 total shots on frame for a 57.9% shot conversion rate, nearly double their season average.
Man-of-the-Match honors fall upon two players: Shea Salinas and Marco Urena. Salinas had the assist on Vako’s shot, had four key passes, eight crosses, five long balls, completed nearly 85% of his passes, and was the only player to combine for at least one interception, tackle, clearance, and blocked shot. Urena finished with six shots, four shots on frame, a key pass, and a goal.
Truth be told, the Galaxy were a very beatable team missing more than a few key players, so take the result with a grain of salt. The true test of the Quakes’ mettle will come in two weeks as the team travels to play the Supporters’ Shield front-runner Toronto FC in Toronto.