Mike Magee went well beyond the call when the Galaxy visited San Jose this weekend, and L.A.'s unbeaten streak hit double digits because of it.
Forced into the nets after starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was injured and backup Josh Saunders red-carded, the 5-foot-10 forward/midfielder pulled on the gloves and stepped between the pipes in the 43rd minute and was rewarded with a shutout in Saturday's draw with the Earthquakes.
The Galaxy (9-2-8) is 5-0-5 in its last 10 after surviving more than a half down a man -- and that after the Quakes dominated the first 45 minutes. But superb defensive organization, marshaled by Gregg Berhalter (making his first first-team start of the year), and Magee's huge contribution in unfamiliar territory gained a share of the points.
Ricketts, making his return after missing three games while with Jamaica at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, was stellar in the opening minutes, but he suffered a left forearm injury in a 21st-minute collision with Khari Stephenson as both closed in on a Ryan Johnson cross and exited the game.
A Galaxy spokesman said the injury will be evaluated Monday and that reports that the preliminary diagnosis was a broken arm, first mentioned on Fox Soccer Channel's broadcast of the game, were in error.
Saunders, who has been solid in seven starts this year while Ricketts was injured or on international duty, stepped in. Within 20 minutes, he was gone, too. It occurred in the least likely of situations: The goalkeeper was holding onto the ball, seemingly by himself, preparing to throw it out to a teammate when San Jose forward Steven Lenhart, from behind, leaned down and headed the ball out of Saunders' possession.
That's a big no-no, and referee Juan Guzman should have whistled play dead right then. But he didn't, and Saunders scrambled to pick up the ball, then threw an elbow -- perhaps blindly -- that caught Lenhart in the head. Guzman showed Saunders a red card and Lenhart a yellow.
With no other goalkeeper on the bench, Magee volunteered to take the job. He made four saves -- the biggest on a 30-yard Bobby Convey blast in the 47th minute and a point-blank leg stop on Lenhart at the right post in the 89th -- and did well handling crosses and taking command of his box.
“I think I blacked out [when I volunteered],” said Magee, who claimed he had “never” played the position, “not even in a non-competitive match.”
“I looked around after Josh Saunders got the red card, and I nominated myself. I did all right, I guess. Looking back, I have no idea why I nominated myself. … I only thought I had to make it 10 minutes, and then we’d have a great plan at halftime where I’d be back on the field. And then we got back in [to the locker room], and it started hitting me that I was going back in goal, and that was pretty nerve-wracking. Bruce [Arena, the Galaxy's head coach], he gave me all the confidence. He said to have fun with it and don’t worry about it.”
A quick look at the Galaxy's draw:
BEST PLAYER: Magee gets the nod for his selflessness and for stepping into the most challenging assignment of his career and, truly, shining. He made two big saves -- the point-blank stop on Lenhart at the end was massive -- and provided a real presence in the box. Unquestionably one of the great performances in the Galaxy season.
Berhalter was outstanding in his return to the first-team duty, and A.J. DeLaGarza kept the Quakes quiet on their left flank after moving from the center to right back with Berhalter's return.
BEST GOAL: None, of course. But the Quakes hit the post twice and Ricketts made two big saves in the first five minutes. San Jose could have gone ahead just 19 seconds in, but Simon Dawkins' turn-and-cross-box shot hit the base of the left post. Then Ricketts went down to stop Dawkins, and the ensuring corner kick produced a Stephenson shot off the right post and Ricketts' stop on Johnson's rebound.
BIGGEST STRUGGLE: This was Guzman's first MLS game in the middle, and it's one he'll want to forget. His failure to deal with Lenhart's abrasive tactics led to the game's defining incident, and he blew it there, too. He should have blown his whistle, pulled his yellow card and be prepared to give a tongue-lashing the instant Lenhart nodded the ball out of Saunders hands. You can bet Guzman was given a stern talking-to by the league's assessors this weekend.
WORTH NOTING: Third-string goalkeeper Brian Perk, a former UCLA star from Rancho Santa Margarita, is almost certain to make his MLS debut in the Galaxy's next league game, July 4 vs. Seattle. Most likely backup will be MLS pool goalkeeper Kevin Guppy, a former Cal State Northridge star from Chino Hills. … Lenhart, of course, is a local boy, from Yorba Linda. Played college ball at Azusa Pacific. ... Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop called the first half “the best soccer that we have played since the team came back in 2008.” San Jose had a 9-1 shot advantage at halftime. It was 26-8 on shots for the game, but the Quakes put only seven on target. … FC Dallas matched the Galaxy for victories (nine) with a 4-0 romp at Portland and sits just four points behind L.A. in the Western Conference and Supporters' Shield standings. … Berhalter was the fifth player to wear the captain's armband for the Galaxy this season. The others, with their records, in order of succession: Landon Donovan (7-1-3), David Beckham (0-1-4), Ricketts (1-0-0) and Todd Dunivant (1-0-0). … Beckham (back spasms) and Frankie Hejduk (ankle injury) did not make the trip. … The crowd (10,872) set a Buck Shaw Stadium MLS record. The Quakes are playing at the tiny venue on Santa Clara University's campus until their planned stadium is a reality.
FINAL JUDGMENT: “We didn’t believe we were going to win the game [after the red card],” Arena said. “We thought that what we needed was to play for a tie. I think if we got a point out of this game in normal circumstances, it would have been good, so we’re elated with the point.”
NEXT: Tuesday vs. L.A. Blues in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Next league match is July 4 vs. Seattle, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)
Buck Shaw Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)
San Jose Earthquakes 0, Galaxy 0
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch; Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Ramiro Corrales; Bobby Convey, Brad Ring, Khari Stephenson (Anthony Ampaipitakwong, 46), Ryan Johnson (Ellis McLoughlin, 75); Simon Dawkins, Steven Lenhart.
Galaxy: Donovan Ricketts (Josh Saunders, 24); A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant; Chris Birchall, Juninho, Michael Stephens, Mike Magee; Miguel Lopez (Sean Franklin, 66), Juan Pablo Angel (Chad Barrett, 84). Unused subs: Paolo Cardozo, Adam Cristman, Bryan Jordan, Jovan Kirovski.
Yellow cards: Dunivant 37, Lenhart 43, Corrales 49. Red card: Saunders 43.
Referee: Juan Guzman. Att.: 10,872.