The San Jose Earthquakes have made a habit of scoring late goals this season, and that propensity for the dramatic carried over into the postseason on Sunday as Victor Bernardez scored in stoppage time to give the club a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal encounter.
San Jose scored nine goals in stoppage time during the regular season, but Sunday's game certainly appeared to be headed for a 0-0 draw after a cautious 90 minutes.
However, the 'Quakes made the most of a rare shot on goal deep into added time as Bernardez fired a free kick through the Galaxy wall that managed to slip underneath Los Angeles goalkeeper Josh Saunders, handing the Supporters' Shield winners a vital edge as the series shifts back to Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday night.
San Jose's intentions seemed pretty clear from the start as the team got men behind the ball and defended well.
Galaxy forward Robbie Keane was the most dangerous man on the field for either side and he nearly opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a flicked header from David Beckham's free kick.
The Earthquakes had a rare opportunity in the 80th minute when Chris Wondolowski curled a shot wide, while Keane came closest to finding the net four minutes from time when Mike Magee dropped a ball off for the Irishman to crack on net from 25 yards.
The shot beat goalkeeper Jon Busch, but it came back off the crossbar, and the game looked to be headed for a scoreless draw.
When the Galaxy's Marcelo Sarvas fouled Simon Dawkins 30 yards from goal it didn't appear to be a major threat, just a chance for the visitors to get a few players forward.
But the L.A. wall parted enough for the shot from Bernardez to slip through and find the net, leaving the defending champions with some work to do on Wednesday.