Home Media Galleries Credentials RECAP: LA Galaxy Edge San Jose to Stay in First Place, 4-3

RECAP: LA Galaxy Edge San Jose to Stay in First Place, 4-3

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The 100th edition of California’s original derby produced a classic worthy of the occasion.
Attacking excellence combined with a defensive capitulation from the LA Galaxy produced a 7-goal thriller in Carson.

A sell-out crowd of 25,335 supporters filled Dignity Health Sports Park with an impressive atmosphere as their LA Galaxy did just enough to beat the San Jose Earthquakes 4-3 on Sunday, April 21st.


The Galaxy and San Jose entered this match on very different terms. The Angelenos were returning home from claiming the top spot off of the Vancouver Whitecaps with a 3-1 win at BC Place. For their part, The Earthquakes were languishing at the bottom of the league and licking their wounds after a 2-0 loss to Colorado Rapids at their own home.

Despite the apparent distance between both sides, the playing field seemed to level as kickoff approached, and Greg Vanney had to dig deep to fill a sudden hole in his roster. Earlier in the week, starting right back Miki Yamane irritated a bruised bone and was ruled out for Sunday’s fixture. 

Mauricio Cuevas had been training well and was lined up to replace Yamane but fell in on Sunday morning. With doctor’s orders ruling Cuevas out, Vanney called on improvised defender Edwin Cerillo to fill in from midfield. 


With all the proper patches in place, Vanney’s LA Galaxy kicked off against San Jose as scheduled at 5:30 PM PST. Although the fans were active from the first whistle, it took the players about 10 minutes to get up to speed. 


The Galaxy’s play started at a snail’s pace, partially hampered by Edwin Cerillo’s conservative play. For a moment, some of the negative patterns seen in the loss at LAFC reemerged, and Joseph Paintsil and Gabriel Pec seemed static and isolated on either wing.

The attack got more and more fluid as midfielders Riqui Puig and Gaston Brugman took more control of the match and started finding their targets in advantageous spaces. The momentum began manifesting itself in the tenth minute of play as the Galaxy created their first shot on goal through a great play that ended in a difficult volley that Pec sent over the bar. 

Less than five minutes later, Julian Aude came into the ball in midfield and quickly flicked it on towards Puig, who reciprocated with another deft touch towards Dejan Joveljic. The Serbian striker proved that attacks no longer die at his feet by putting the perfect weight on the first-time pass to Pec, who controlled and chipped the onrushing William Yarbrough to make it 1-0 in the ninth minute.

With the taste of blood fresh on their lips, the Galaxy’s forwards pressed on for more goals and were rewarded with two more goals within 15 minutes of the first. Joseph Paintsil converted a penalty in the 24th minute before turning provider in the 30th. Paintsil’s corner was lifted towards the penalty spot and Maya Yoshida rose above the rest to head the ball at the bottom corner and put the Galaxy 3-0 up. 

The bloodlust seemed to catch up with the Galaxy after the third goal, and they conceded almost immediately afterward. Another chaotic set piece in the 32nd minute resulted in San Jose’s first goal of the night, which sent both teams to their locker rooms with a 3-1 scoreline.

Joseph Paintsil came out of the break desperate to recover the distance the Galaxy had worked so hard to create in the first 30 minutes. He began driving the team forward immediately after the restart and helped encourage the sequence that resulted in the Galaxy’s fourth goal of the night. 

Pec, Puig, and Joveljic found themselves countering against San Jose and working together on the left-hand side to exploit the gaps left in transition. Paintsil suddenly appeared like a bullet train on the right-hand side of the screen and helped spread San Jose’s defense just enough to allow Pec to find Puig in a bit of space. The Earthquake’s defenders then learned the hard way that Riqui only needs an inch to take a deft touch, spin on his own axis, and slot home a cold finish. 

With four goals scored and just one conceded in 56 minutes, things felt wrapped up for the Galaxy, but they would be reminded of their hubris almost right away for the second time in this match.

The three-goal lead disappeared as quickly as it had reappeared as San Jose scored after Pec went in and lost a hard challenge. The Earthquakes played their free kick quickly and sent in a dangerous cross while Pec was hurting and unable to apply pressure as he normally would. Substitute Benji Kikanovic got his head on the end of the cross and scored to make it 4-2 in the 58th. 

Kikanovic’s goal started the longest goalless period of the game as both sides looked to push the scoreline further in their team’s favor. Despite being on top of the match, the Galaxy ended up allowing San Jose to build pressure. This eventually came to a head when Eriq Zaveleta was sent off for pulling down Jeremy Ebobisse in the box in the 70th minute. Ebobisse calmly converted the penalty and suddenly San Jose were up a man and within one from stealing a point.

Fortunately, Ebobisse’s penalty was the last goal of the game, and the LA Galaxy secured a 4-3 win

After the match, Greg Vanney and the players all echoed the sentiment that they must be more mature in order to protect their leads.

The Galaxy’s “killer instinct” has, at times, caused them to lose sense of the game plan. Whenever they know they have the better of their defenders, the prospect of a goal fest excites LA’s forwards into pushing far too high up the pitch, causing them to lose defensive structure and allow their opponents back into games. 


The LA Galaxy have less than seven days to develop some maturity before they travel to Texas to face Austin FC, but for now, they will enjoy being the victors of the century edition of the Cali Clásico. 

Photo: LA Galaxy

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