San Jose Earthquakes Lose to L.A. Galaxy: The Day the Magic Died for the Quakes

Ryan Balbi@@ryanbalbiContributor INovember 8, 2012

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Steven Lenhart #24 (L) and Ike Opara #55 (R) of the San Jose Earthquakes grab each others hand in the middle of the field after the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Earthquakes 3-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals at Buck Shaw Stadium on November 7, 2012 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It was set up for another magical finish. 

The San Jose Earthquakes were doing battle with the Los Angeles Galaxy in their Western Conference semifinal second leg. The Quakes had earned a 1-0 lead after Victor Bernardez's 94th-minute winner in the firs leg. However, the Galaxy quickly turned the tide on the Supporters' Shield winners. 

The defending champs came out blazing with a quick goal from Robbie Keane in the 21st minute on a defensive error by early sub Ike Opara. It looked like that was the shock San Jose needed to get going, but it was beat twice more in the first half on a second goal by Robbie Keane and Mr. November, Mike Magee. The MLS leading goal scorer, Chris Wondolowski, had an early opportunity to keep pace, but he blasted a shot from 10 yards over the goal. 

The Earthquakes have been called the Goonies for their never-say-die attitude. All season long, they appeared to have magic running through them. In three regular-season games with the Galaxy, the Quakes battled from behind to win two and tie the other. Five times this season, the Quakes had stoppage-time winners, including the Bernardez goal on Sunday. It was only fitting that they would have to battle from behind one more time. 

The Earthquakes came out of halftime down 3-0 on the night and 3 1 on aggregate. They needed two goals in regulation to get to overtime and three to send the defending champs home early.

They put together a few decent attacks but never seemed dangerous until the last 15 minutes of the game. The momentum certainly shifted to San Jose when the third "bash brother," Alan Gordon, came into the game. Gordon had been resting a bad ankle but made an appearance late in an attempt to get that magic back.

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It almost worked.

Gordon scored in the 82nd minute following a missed attempt by Justin Morrow on a corner kick. The Quakes needed one goal in the last eight minutes and stoppage time to earn some more soccer. Then it happened. In stoppage time, one minute before the whistle would be blown, the Earthquakes got their chance. Steven Lenhart headed a ball down to Wondo at the top of the box. Wondo turned and played a perfect pass to his right to the oncoming Ike Opara. Time must have frozen for Quakes fans. It was surely going to happen again. They had done it all season long. They knew how this story was told.

Then the magic died.

Opara's shot sailed over the crossbar, crushing the dreams of all those blue, wig-wearing Earthquakes fans in attendance at Buckshaw. The Galaxy were able to kill the clock and move on to the Western Conference finals. 

All year long, the "Goonies" never quit. They persevered through countless trials. On this day, it just wasn't meant to be. 


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