CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy have dominated far more games this season than they haven’t, and until their run the past few weeks -- with one-sided romps over New England, Seattle and Portland -- they too often had failed to gather the points they deserved when they did so.
It happened again Friday night, when the Galaxy dictated every aspect of their California Clasico clash with the San Jose Earthquakes, conceded twice on counterattacks and had to settle for a 2-2 draw at StubHub Center.
That’s 15 points, more or less, they’ve lost this season -- enough to put them far ahead in the Supporters’ Shield chase.
LA, which Monday added to its attacking options by sending allocation money to San Jose to bring back forward Alan Gordon, lacked sharpness in the final third and were brutal when the Earthquakes sprinted through gaping space to take leads in the 18th and 31st minutes, and it added up to a result that, logically, made little sense.
"It’s a tie that feels like a loss, but I think when we wake up in the morning, we’ll realize one point is better than none and to come back twice from a goal down is still good," Landon Donovan said afterward. "We played well, we controlled the game, but we made a couple mistakes. And generally when a team has three shots, they’re not going to score twice, but that’s the way it went tonight. We did everything we could, the ball just didn’t find the net in the end."
The Galaxy (9-4-7) outshot the Quakes 24-3, took 10 corner kicks to none for San Jose, held nearly constant possession -- the ball was theirs 69.8 percent of the match -- and repeatedly strung together at least a dozen passes, often far more. But they put only six shots on frame and opposing defenders got in the way of nine more.
"They obviously weren’t real dangerous going forward, and somehow we managed to concede two goals," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "I think that’s the storyline. Pretty sloppy defending on a couple of plays, and give San Jose credit, good finishing on their part.
"In general, I think we played a fairly inefficient game tonight. The quality of our passing wasn’t good. The chances that we created fell short on a night where we had the chance to score a bunch of goals and didn’t get that done and conceded way too many, given the kind of game it was."
The Earthquakes (6-8-6) were happy to sit back in their box, shut off all the passing lanes and clear the ball when it got too close to goal. It led to two first-half counterattacks, with Chris Wondolowski and Matias Perez Garcia finishing the only shots they created before second-half stoppage arrived.
Gyasi Zardes answered the first Quakes goal, his ninth of the season, and Omar Gonzalez lost his mark to split the points with a 49th-minute header from Stefan Ishizaki’s corner kick. The final 40 minutes were played nearly entirely in and around the Quakes’ box.
"It’s hard to break teams down, and give them a lot of credit, they defended very well," Donovan said. "And they defended well when they were in good blocks and good positions, and also their emergency defending was very good. When they had to make plays, they made plays. We put them under a lot of pressure, but they didn’t break, and you have to give them credit for that."
The Galaxy’s domination against Seattle and Portland, in their two previous games, was helped by their opponents’ desire to match their attack. The Sounders and Timbers like to play, like to go forward, do so quite well. It left lots of space for LA to exploit.
Not so with the Quakes. They sat back and countered, and the Galaxy weren’t quite sharp enough to break it down. Did San Jose just give the rest of the league a lesson on how to stop LA when it is in complete control? Perhaps.
"I think that we’re a really good team, and other teams around the league are starting to see that," Gonzalez said. "Maybe they want to press for the counter, but we’re definitely now a lot more aware of that, so we’ll be able to stop it for the future. We’ll continue to get the ball wide, keep on crossing balls and scoring goals.
"We’re obviously going to be get our chances, but now we have to be more lethal and more deadly and score every chance we get."