The LA Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez (#4) looks to turn after being met by Shea Salinas of the San Jose Earthquakes during their Central California Cup match on February 15, 2014, at Chukchansi Park, in Fresno, California. (Photo: Herman Evaristo/Fresno Fuego)
FRESNO, California – In a battle of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinalists, the LA Galaxy lifted the inaugural Central California Cup on Saturday with a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes before a capacity crowd of 12,659 at Chukchansi Park.
Marcelo Sarvas and Gyasi Zardes netted for the four-time Major League Soccer champion before an hour had passed, while 17-year-old defender Josh Morton halved the deficit midway through the second half.
The Earthquakes burst out of the gate quickly, but as play settled down, LA became more active on the offensive end and took a 31st minute lead.
While trying to turn after receiving a left-sided cross with his back to the goal in the San Jose penalty area, Samuel had the ball poked away by defender Jordan Stewart. As it rolled towards the top of the box, Sarvas stepped up and fired a right-footed shot past diving goalkeeper Jon Busch inside the right post.
Zardes, who scored the game-winner in another friendly against Armenia’s FC Shirak on February 8, made it 2-0 with a stunning strike nine minutes after the break. The 22-year-old forward raced dazzlingly through a maze of San Jose defenders prior to pulling the trigger on an effort from 18-yards out that flashed over Busch and underneath the crossbar.
San Jose got on the scoreboard in the 68th minute, when Morton found the back of the net off a Sam Garza corner.
Next month, in the two-legged CCL quarterfinals, LA will take-on Club Tijuana, while the Earthquakes will meet Toluca.
NOTES: In the day’s first game at Chukchansi Park, Premier Development League club Fresno Fuego defeated the San Jose Earthquakes reserves, 2-1, on goals by Paul Islas and Justin Finch … On Thursday, the Fuego fell 2-1 to the LA Galaxy II, the club’s USL Pro side.