Escape from LA: SJ steals victory from Defending Champs


Bernardez lines up the stoppage-time winner / Photo: Ali Gilmore

Goonies never say die.

By Cory Ritzau

I’m sure to most fans in the Western Conference, the whole Goonies bit is getting a little tired by now, but San Jose just continues to demonstrate how and why they’ve earned their dubious nickname.

The first leg of the Western Conference semi-finals between San Jose and Los Angeles had all the makings of a stale 0-0 draw, but Victor Bernardez had other ideas.

After managing just a combined four shots on goal through 90 minutes between the two teams, Bernardez smacked a seeing-eyed 30 yard free kick from straight away that wiggled its way through the Galaxy ball and skipped past a diving Josh Saunders for the game’s lone goal four minutes into stoppage time to send the Supporter’s Shield winners home with a 1-0 lead with the return leg left to play.

“I always line-up to score on plays like that,” said Bernardez through a team translator, “When I have the opportunity I take it, and thank God I had the opportunity tonight.”

Up to that point, the game was not exactly a ringing endorsement for MLS playoff drama as the two teams looked began the feeling out process that is not unfamiliar in a two-legged match.

Quiet night for the MVP-to-be / Photo: Ali Gilmore

“I think you have to feel yourself out. You can’t go in a big hole if you get scored on early,” said San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski.

“So it’s kind of like a boxing match where you’re feeling yourself out, feeling your opponent out a bit.”

But while the first 90 minutes may stand in stark contrast to many of the games that the Quakes have played in 2012 scoring 71 goals, the ending looked all too familiar.

The team now has 9 goals this season in 2nd half stoppage time as the team surely looks to have earned fate’s favor.

“I guess it just shows the spirit of the team. We’ve obviously scored a lot of late goals, and it was just a good shot by Victor, and Josh spills it a little bit but I thought it was an even game,” said Quakes coach Frank Yallop.

“They obviously had some great chances with Robbie Keane hitting the bar and some of their crosses skirting across the six yard box, but I thought for an away performance with a banged up squad we are obviously very happy with the result.”

The game sets up what could be a dramatic showdown in San Jose as the Defending Champions stand 90 minutes away from elimination.

The two teams will now return to Buck Shaw with the Galaxy facing something they did not experience last season in their title run with the prospect of having to come from behind. The Galaxy never trailed in 2011 in aggregate but maybe learned something from their wild card victory midweek against Vancouver.

The two teams will square off at 8pm Wednesday evening.

With the prospect of elimination on the line, one would have to think the game is more likely to resemble the two teams three regular season games that averaged over 5.5 goals per game than Sunday night’s more reserved result.


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