SANTA CLARA -- The Earthquakes' magic disappeared Wednesday night at the worst possible moment in a devastating 3-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy that ended their MLS Cup playoff run with a decisive blow from their rivals.
The Galaxy unleashed a season's worth of frustration on the Quakes in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,744 at Buck Shaw Stadium. Los Angeles won the playoff series 3-2 in aggregate goals after the Quakes had scored a 1-0 victory in Carson on Sunday.
It came crashing to a halt for San Jose, the regular-season champion with a 19-6-9 record which entered the playoffs with some of its top players hurting.
Striker Steven Lenhart revealed Wednesday night that he suffered a torn meniscus two weeks ago and needs postseason surgery.
Stalwart defender Victor Bernardez had to leave the game in the 12th minute with a right knee strain. He suffered the injury in the first leg of the series on the night he scored the game winner in the 94th minute.
"We weren't going to make excuses going into this, and we won't make excuses now," said striker Alan Gordon, another star who was playing on fumes with an ankle sprain.
Despite the sudden end to club's best regular-season in history the Quakes players didn't give up. Gordon scored on a volley in the 82nd minute and Ike Opara -- Bernardez' replacement -- almost got the equalizer in second-half stoppage time.
San Jose's usually trusty defensive line came unglued after Bernardez's departure by allowing three first-half goals, including two to Robbie Keane.
Los Angeles ended the Quakes' 18-game winning streak at Buck Shaw that dated to August 2011.
The Quakes had owned Los Angeles this season with a 3-0-1 record in the California Classico. But in the one that mattered, the Galaxy dominated the Supporters' Shield winners.
"We've been the best team in the league since July," L.A. coach Bruce Arena said. "I'm glad nobody noticed."
The rest of the league did Wednesday as the reigning MLS champions advanced to the Western Conference finals against the winner of the Real Salt Lake-Seattle Sounders series that ends Thursday night.
Arena said Keane has been the league's best player since the European Championships this summer, and the Irish international star showed why Wednesday. He scored the series' tying goal in the 21st minute as he dribbled unmarked into an advantageous area after receiving the ball from Mike Magee. Keane hit the left side of the post, and the ball ricocheted into the back of the net.
The Galaxy's kismet had turned considering Keane hit the crossbar in the 85th minute in the first leg of the series.
Keane struck again in the 34th minute after the Quakes' Chris Wondolowski booted an open shot over the net, and Lenhart headed another good chance just wide left.
The striker took a pass from Landon Donovan on a counter attack to give Los Angeles the series' lead. Donovan again served a good ball after sneaking past Simon Dawkins in the 39th minute that Magee buried into the net.
A team that scored a league-leading 72 goals in the regular season didn't convert its chances Wednesday. Wondolowski, who tied the single season record with 27 goals in the regular season, said he missed three.
On this night the Quakes couldn't live up to their motto "Goonies Never Die."
But they left the field to a standing ovation from their devoted fans.
"We're building something," Lenhart said.