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Starry Galaxy loses its shine in 1-0 loss to Earthquakes

Starry Galaxy loses its shine in 1-0 loss to Earthquakes
Galaxy forward Robbie Keane takes a shot on goal againstEarthquakes defender Marvell Wynnein the second half of their MLS game on Friday night in San Jose. (Dan Loumena)

The first FIFA international break of the fall couldn't come at a more inopportune time for the Galaxy.

Even with the short-handed Galaxy falling Friday to the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, the team remains Major League Soccer's hottest, having won eight of its last 11 games, outscoring opponents 33-14 over that span.

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However that 21/2-month sprint from the middle of the Western Conference to the top of the MLS standings came to a dead stop after Friday's loss, with the league taking the next two weeks off to accommodate a busy schedule of World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and international friendlies.

If Coach Bruce Arena is worried about squandering that momentum, though, he isn't admitting it.

"It is what it is," Arena said. "You can't use it as an excuse if it doesn't work out well.

"I'm really not going to worry about it."

Besides, given the way the Galaxy played for long stretches Friday — in its 35th game in 25 weeks — the team looked as if it could use a little R&R.

The Galaxy conceded the only goal early in a lackluster first half, then had to play most of the second half with 10 men after center referee Jose Carlos Rivero showed a red card to defender Leonardo, sending him to the dressing room 90 seconds after halftime.

"The entire officiating crew didn't do a good job," Arena said. "If you give a yellow card, I'm going to maybe say 'OK.' But I don't even think it's a yellow card.

"That's a classic example of poor officiating. They ruined the game."

But the Galaxy wasn't exactly reinventing the sport. Starting the same lineup for the fourth consecutive game — something Arena was unable to do through his team's first 25 matches — the team was outhustled and outplayed for long stretches.

The Earthquakes were poorly rewarded for their efforts, though, with their only goal coming on a Shea Salinas header in the 18th minute. Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts inadvertently set up the goal by diving to bat away a header from Quincy Amarikwa, only to have the rebound carom directly to Salinas, who knocked it home.

San Jose should have doubled its advantage in the 38th minute when Chris Wondolowski dipped to get his head on Marvell Wynne's perfect cross. But the shot, which had Ricketts beat, found the left post instead of the net.

Then came the play that led to Leonardo's expulsion with the Galaxy defender bumping Amarikwa, who sold the foul by tumbling to the ground just outside the Galaxy's 18-yard box and drawing the red card.

About 10 minutes later the back line was weakened further when A.J. DeLaGarza took a knock and came off in favor of David Romney, who was making his second MLS appearance.

At that point even the combined star power of Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard couldn't save the Galaxy. "We deserved to lose," said Arena, whose team was outshot 11-5 in the second half. "We played better with 10 players than we did with 11. And obviously you play with 10 players for 43 minutes or so, you're not putting yourself in a good position."

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