Ranking the top five moments in Earthquakes-Galaxy history
3. Earthquakes 1, Galaxy 3 (Buck Shaw Stadium, Nov. 11, 2012)
(second leg, Western Conference semifinals)
The Quakes were astoundingly good in 2012, romping to the Supporters' Shield with a 19-6-9 record while riding their “Goonies” attack to 72 goals, 13 more than the next-best offense, and they opened the postseason with a 1-0 road triumph against their archrivals on a Victor Bernardez goal four minutes into second-half stoppage time.
The Galaxy were defending champions, but they'd started the campaign poorly -- they were 3-8-2 when June arrived -- and needed a 9-1-2 run from July into September to climb to fourth in the West. San Jose clearly had their number, twice rallying from two-goal deficits to pull out victories during the regular season. It was LA's turn in the second leg of the Western semifinals.
Robbie Keane's blistering performance, punctuated by two first-half goals, was the difference as LA pulled out a 3-2 aggregate victory. Keane tallied in the 21st and 35th minutes -- the first with a blast off the left post after Edson Buddle opened space with a defender-pulling run, the second from a through ball by Landon Donovan -- and Mike Magee followed with another in the 39th. Alan Gordon cut the deficit near the finish, but the Galaxy held on and were celebrating back-to-back MLS Cup titles three and a half weeks later.
4. Galaxy 3, Earthquakes 1 (Home Depot Center, Oct. 23, 2005)
(first leg, Western Conference semifinals)
Which was the greatest Earthquakes team ever? Maybe their 2005 group, which went 18-4-10, won the Western Conference by 16 points, and entered the playoffs with a 14-game unbeaten streak capped by a 3-1 road win over LA in the regular-season finale. The Galaxy, under Steve Sampson's command, weren't so great, just 13-13-6, good for fourth place in the West, better than only startups Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA, who were a combined 9-44-11.
Then Landon Donovan, in his first season for LA, came alive, carrying the Galaxy on his shoulders to their second MLS Cup triumph, and it started with a home victory in the Western Conference semifinal opener. Herculez Gomez, the Galaxy's MVP after his breakthrough season, provided a lead in the 13th minute, Donovan doubled the advantage before halftime, and after Ricardo Clark tallied for San Jose midway through the second half, Donovan restored the two-goal advantage in the 87th minute.
The Galaxy then did enough in the second leg six days later at Spartan Stadium, with Ned Grabavoy's second-half goal providing insurance after Brian Ching's strike just before halftime cut San Jose's deficit, and the 1-1 draw saw LA through. It was the final game for San Jose -- they left for Houston during the offseason -- until a new Earthquakes team debuted in 2008.
5. Earthquakes 3, Galaxy 2 (Stanford Stadium, June 29, 2013)
Alan Gordon was a Galaxy killer during his tenure in San Jose, and the greatest of his feats occurred in front of 50,000 on the Stanford campus. LA dominated the action most of the way, grabbing a 2-0 advantage on goals by Marcelo Sarvas in the 20th minute and Hector Jimenez, a minute after coming off the bench, in the 65th -- both assisted by Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan -- and then déjà vu.
A year earlier, San Jose had rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 victory, but this one was much wilder. Gordon, who had entered for Steven Lenhart in the 64th, pulled the Quakes within a goal on a header in the 68th minute from a Shea Salinas cross -- he'd pushed down A.J. DeLaGarza while the ball was in the air, and referee Armando Villarreal let play continue -- but LA looked comfortable when Victor Bernardez was sent off with his second yellow card in the 77th minute.
Stoppage time belonged to San Jose. Salinas scored the equalizer in the 92nd minute, winning a race to a loose ball in the goalmouth, and Gordon headed home a Sam Cronin chip in the 93rd for the win.
A few honorable mentions?
Earthquakes 0, Galaxy 0 (Buck Shaw Stadium, June 25, 2011): Donovan Ricketts leaves with an early injury and Josh Saunders is red-carded just before halftime, so Mike Magee steps between the pipes for a little more than a half and completes the shutout. Legendary.
Galaxy 2, Earthquakes 3 (Home Depot Center, May 23, 2012): Khari Stephenson nets a late equalizer and Alan Gordon strikes again, this time in the 94th minute, nodding a bouncing ball over Brian Perk and into the net to give San Jose the win.
Earthquakes 1, Galaxy 1 (Negoesco Stadium, July 24, 2001): LA, en route to their first U.S. Open Cup title, prevails on penalties, 10-9, in a tense quarterfinal played for an overflow crowd at the University of San Francisco's stadium.
Galaxy 1, Earthquakes 0 (Rose Bowl, Sept. 14, 2002): Carlos Ruiz, the year he scored 32, tallies in the 94th minute to lift LA.
Scott French is a reporter for FourFourTwo. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJFrench.