L.A. hopes to overturn deficit against San Jose
Santa Clara, CA – The Los Angeles Galaxy have overturned a first-leg deficit just twice in their long postseason history - the first back in the inaugural season of MLS in 1996 against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Sixteen years later, the Galaxy are the exact same position after a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of Western Conference semifinals.
This time, as defending MLS Cup champions, Los Angeles has to overturn the gap on the road.
Los Angeles visits San Jose on Wednesday night in the second leg of their two- game series and a one-goal win at Buck Shaw Stadium is the minimum needed just to force extra time.
The Earthquakes need just a draw to advance to the Western finals, and the top squad during the regular season was impressive at home all year.
"First and foremost, we can't concede," L.A.'s Landon Donovan said. "We've got to be smart with our defending, but we're in a position now where we've got nothing to lose.
"So we're going to go like we have always, we're going to go and try to win the game. There's no reason why the guys in this room can't go win a game in San Jose."
Los Angeles trails in the series after San Jose struck in stoppage time at The Home Depot Center on Sunday. Victor Bernardez scored off a deflected free kick from 40 yards, giving San Jose its ninth stoppage-time goal this season.
"It was never a game you would think that we would lose," Donovan said, "but it was kind of one fluke play, and we were a little unlucky."
L.A. has scored five goals in its two road games against San Jose this season, losing 4-3 at Stanford Stadium in June and tying 2-2 at Buck Shaw in October.
"Now it looks like we've got to get two. But it's not over. We've played well there twice this year," Donovan said.
L.A. felt it played well in the first match, and David Beckham felt team could have won if it took advantage of its opportunities.
"If you don't put one of those (chances) away it can always kill you at the end ... But we can take the positives from the chances we created and the possession that we had," Beckham said.
San Jose is in great shape for the second leg against L.A., but 27-goal scorer Chris Wondolowski does not expect his side to be happy to hang onto a one-goal lead.
"We expect them to come out flying on Wednesday night, but we will also come out flying," he said. "We are not planning on sitting back and protecting a lead."
A good sign from the win was the shutout, the first for the Earthquakes since mid-September. San Jose had just two shutouts over its last 14 regular-season matches.
"I think it was a very mature away performance," San Jose coach Frank Yallop said. "We didn't want to concede a goal. ... At this point, you've got to make sure you do that. We worked all week on defending."
San Jose knows there is still a lot of work to do in the second leg.
"We haven't accomplished anything yet. We still have another game to go and we have to be humble," Bernardez said. "We respect them and we know ... they will come out ready again Wednesday night."