LA Galaxy advance to Western Conference Championship
LEG 1 – LA Galaxy 0-1 San Jose Earthquakes
LEG 2 – San Jose Earthquakes 1-3 LA Galaxy
Robbie Keane scored twice in the first half, Mike Magee added another and Landon Donovan notched two assists as the LA Galaxy beat the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 Wednesday to complete a 3-2 aggregate victory in the teams’ Western Conference semifinal series and keep their dreams of an MLS Cup repeat alive.
Alan Gordon gave San Jose hope in the 82nd minute when he forwarded a mis-hit shot from Justin Morrow for his first career playoff goal. But the Earthquakes could not find the equalizer they needed to force overtime.
San Jose, which had been 3-0-1 against LA this season, suffered its first defeat at Buck Shaw stadium since Aug. 13, 2011, breaking an unbeaten streak of 18 MLS matches.
Keane walked through San Jose’s midfield and knocked a 22-yard shot off the post to tie the series on aggregate in the 21st minute.
The Irish international then slipped in behind San Jose’s scattered backline on a 34th-minute counterattack, collected a through ball from Landon Donovan and rounded Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch before slotting it home for his second of the evening.
Magee delivered the insurance goal in the 39th minute, making an unmarked run to 12 yards out and one-timing a pass from Donovan.
Earthquakes defender Ike Opara had a clear shot from 9 yards in second-half injury time, but he pushed it over the bar.
It was a similar result to 2005, when the Galaxy also prevailed in the playoffs’ first round against a San Jose team that won the Supporters’ Shield.
San Jose led the series 1-0 after stealing a road win in Sunday’s first leg thanks to Víctor Bernárdez’s 94th-minute free kick. But with Bernárdez forced out by injury in the 12th minute, Opara was pressed into action, and the Earthquakes’ discombobulated defense couldn’t hold on.
The Galaxy, held without a shot through 66 minutes in the first leg, leapt to take advantage through Keane.
The opener energized San Jose’s attack, but the usually sure-finishing club which scored a franchise-record 72 goals in the regular season simply couldn’t convert. Omar Gonzalez’s attempted clearance fell to Chris Wondolowski in the 26th minute, but even with LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders knocked to the ground, the Golden Boot winner blasted his shot from close range well over the crossbar.
Wondolowski, who tied the league’s all-time single-season scoring record with 27 goals this season, was held without a point in the playoffs.
The Galaxy broke San Jose’s pressure and took the lead in clinical fashion in the 34th minute when Donovan chased down a Tommy Meyer feed to start a counterattack. While San Jose’s defense scrambled back, Keane slipped behind them, unmarked and onside, allowing him to round Busch and tuck home an easy finish.
Donovan set up the Galaxy’s third goal as well. Sprung free in the right corner by a one-two with Sean Franklin, the U.S. international waited until an onrushing Magee came into view, feeding the runner for his second goal of the 2012 playoffs and fifth in his last seven playoff games.
San Jose midfielder Marvin Chávez nearly drew the Quakes back just before halftime with a dipping, bending free kick from 25 yards, but it crashed off the post, indicative of the Quakes’ fortunes on the night.