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Which Galaxy man was more at fault on San Jose’s late goal?

Nov 5, 2012, 8:55 AM EDT

Galaxy wall

Some would say that Omar Gonzalez’s curious choice to jump in the wall was the culprit as San Jose’s Victor Bernardez scored late last night against Los Angeles.

Others might suggest that Josh Saunders was more culpable; after all, even when Bernardez’s shot slipped through the Galaxy’s wall in stoppage time, it looked like something the Galaxy goalkeeper could have and should have smothered to preserve the draw.

(MORE: Analysis on Sunday’s match at the Home Depot Center)

It really was such a critical goal, because what was minutes away from becoming a “difficult” task for Los Angeles during Wednesday’s second leg in Northern California, now looks far more problematic. San Jose just needs a draw at home to advance and eliminate the champs – who aren’t looking very champ-like all of the sudden after their second consecutive contest at home that we can surely classify as “worryingly tame.”

So, back to the question; watch it and then meet me below the video:

(And no jokes about how referee Ricardo Salazar was most responsible for the goal, for whistling the foul in the first place; let’s stay on point for now.)

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At the risk of fence-sitting accusations, I would split the difference right down the center on this one, citing each of the Galaxy men with game-day violations that fall somewhere between felony and misdemeanor level.

As for Gonzalez: at that distance, and with Bernardez taking such a long run-up, the danger here is a ball that squeezes through the wall or curves with menace around it. At closer distances, the tricky part for shooters is getting the ball “up and down” fast enough, with sufficient height to top the wall, but having the thing drop early enough so that it doesn’t hit the kid in the sixth row.

Which is why players jump, hopefully in unison, in the wall.

The other four men in L.A.’s wall last night understood this. (A good question to be asked: did someone in the wall actually say, “We aren’t jumping on this one. Everybody got it?”)

All that said, the ball did hit Gonzalez, removing much of the pace from Bernardez’s shot, which became a shot-lite as it slips through. Saunders, so reliable through most of the year, hasn’t been at his best lately. He darn sure wasn’t on this one.

He still has 20 yards to see the ball, one that arrives well within saving distance. That is, Saunders isn’t even at full stretch as he meets the dipping effort.

Besides, if you look at the difference-making goalkeeping in the other matches this weekend – Luis Robles having a good night for New York and “Super” Nick Rimando doing more than his share for Real Salt Lake – that is simply a moment the Galaxy goalkeeper has to own.

If Saunders stops that ball or plays it extra safe and pushes the thing wide, we’re all calling it a “good” stop – but probably not reaching much further in our big bag of adjectives.

So, split the blame 50-50 for me.

  1. manchestermiracle - Nov 5, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Multiple missed chances throughout the match sank the Galaxy. The passing was horrible, except for Beckham. And Arenas pulled him around the 74th minute. WTF? Galaxy are done, they aren’t going to win in SJ, let alone score enough to overcome this defeat.

    • Steve Davis - Nov 5, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      Yes. Agree with all. But the question here still stands …

      Seriously, we have and will again talk about the Galaxy, who seem to have hit a sticking point at the worst possible time.

  2. drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Saunders more at fault….like 72/28. It was a real howler.

    • Steve Davis - Nov 5, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      I appreciate a man who has clearly run the precise calculations!

  3. term3186 - Nov 5, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    that goal was bad business all around. but I’m going to have to go 70/30, placing most of the blame on the wall. a shot from there simply can’t be allowed to get through the wall like that. Should the keeper save it? Certainly. But the ball should never have come anywhere near the goal to begin with.

  4. ricecloudnine - Nov 5, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    I would put it more at 75-25 with Omar being more at fault. My reasoning is that in setting up a wall, their primary purpose is to cover half of the goal so that the goalkeeper doesn’t have to and can focus on the open side of the net. If the ball gets through or past the wall, then the goalkeeper can cover for the wall’s mistake or inability to stop the shot.

    Especially with the run up that Bernardez took, it was highly unlikely that he was going for top corner placement. Anything that goes over the wall is ending up in row 15. So, jumping is a major fault on Gonzalez’s part. Saunders had an opportunity to cover for Gonzalez’s mistake in what appeared to be a savable ball, but flubbed it. That’s why he shares some of the responsibility. However, if Gonzalez did his job properly, it never would have come to Saunders having to make a save. I don’t feel you can equally fault somebody for covering for somebody else’s mistake.

  5. bakaduin - Nov 5, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    I’d go about 75-25 with the Goalkeeper being at fault.

    Reasoning: If you watch the ball it hits Omar in the side of the leg, which takes a good deal of sting off the shot as it squeezes through. I’m not 100% convinced if he had been standing perfectly still it wouldn’t have still squeezed through as it was placed basically right between Omar and the other defender. It wasn’t as if Omar jumped and it went untouched under both feet, it was to the side of him. If anything not only should he not have jumped but the wall should have been tighter.

    All that being said Saunders had a routine save to make their. I say routine not in the place of the word easy but in a save that all professional level goalkeepers would be expected to make. He has plenty of time to see the ball, is not at full stretch, and most the power was taken away by Omar’s leg.

  6. mkbryant3 - Nov 5, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Wow, where was Donovan last night? As Ridge described it, yes, the game was indeed “dour”, but I didn’t notice Donovan having one bright moment….well, outside of that backheel (more foot on ball) to Keane, who hit the crossbar.

    Dude looks like he can’t wait for the offseason.

  7. drewwwski - Nov 5, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    50/50 in an article entitled “Which Galaxy man was more at fault on San Jose’s late goal?” Seems like a bit of a cop out to me. Kind of like mom not trying to make either kid feel bad after an argument. “Now go get your participant trophies and we’ll go get some ice cream to celebrate.”

  8. drewvt6 - Nov 5, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Donovan’s clearly not 100%…thing you gotta wonder is if he’d take more slack for not going when he’s ~75% or for going at 75%.

    Saunders was the weakest link in that defensive unit last year. Unfortunately for him, the unit isn’t as solid this year as last which in a league where depth is virtually non-existent makes perfect sense.

    It would be tough for an LA team firing on all cylinders as they were in 2011 to win in SJ. This year’s team is NOT on the same page.

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