SAN JOSE -- Cali Clasico fans have come to expect fireworks on the pitch every time the San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy face off in one of Major League Soccer’s best rivalries.
And the first affair of 2017 was no exception. Five goals in the first half got the match off to a roaring start but, much to the chagrin of San Jose fans, L.A. handed the Earthquakes their first Avaya Stadium loss of the season with a 4-2 final.
Giovani Dos Santos notched a pair of goals including the backbreaking tally 20 minutes into the second half.
Chris Wondolowski got the first half flurry going with an easy-money strike on a volley after a perfect backpost cross from Danny Hoesen in the 10th minute.
Saturday’s match was Hoesen’s best performance of the season, by far.
Los Angeles equalized nine minutes later when Joao Pedro took advantage of a sneaky ball between two defenders from Dos Santos. The Brazilian turned and struck the ball true to beat David Bingham.
It was the first sign of the San Jose nightmare that is the Mexican national.
The Galaxy took their first lead of the match in the 35th minute when Dos Santos finished a penalty kick earned after Kofi Sarkodie clothelined Bradley Diallo in the box.
But two minutes later, it was Hoesen getting off the proverbial schneid by notching his first goal as an Earthquake. It was a classy finish off a low cross inside the box from Tommy Thompson, who picked up his second assist of the season on the play.
Disaster struck one minute before halftime though, when a diving Victor Bernardez deflected a Diallo cross after the defender found himself back in the San Jose 18. The ball beat a shocked Bingham.
San Jose came out aggressive in the second half and Los Angeles made them pay on the counterattack to put the game away. Romain Alessandrini raced down the left flank, took a look up and struck gold on a left-footed cross to Dos Santos on the back post that could not have been hand-placed any better. Dos Santos arrived perfectly to head the ball past Bingham.
The loss moved San Jose’s home record to 3-1-3.
Turning point: The final marker gave L.A. a two-goal win, but any momentum San Jose had after Hoesen equalized evaporated on the Bernardez own goal. Not only did the goal somewhat deflate the home team, but put San Jose in the position of aggressor – and it’s a position the Galaxy exploited to score the fourth goal.
San Jose’s Man of the Match: The pressure has been on Hoesen since the forward arrived on loan from the Netherlands. In 12 previous games, the man from Heerlen only had one assist to show for his efforts. On Saturday, Hoesen assisted on the first goal with a world-class cross and picked up his first goal of the season on an equally exquisite finish.
History watch: Wondolowski’s first half strike was his eighth goal against the Los Angeles side and 127th all-time in MLS. He is now just six behind Jaime Moreno, who sits third on the MLS’ all-time list.
Attendance: As expected, the San Jose Earthquakes announced a sell out for the marquee match on their schedule.
Up next: The Earthquakes head north to take on the Portland Timbers. The June 2nd matchup is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start.