San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles Galaxy: Another Chapter to be Added to Cali Clasico Lore

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Chris Wondolowski celebrates during a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy on July 1st, 2017. Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge

In a normal season, a nationally televised meeting with the Los Angeles Galaxy four days after an embarrassing midweek loss to Real Salt Lake would be a cause for trepidation and a meek statement that “well, it’s a rivalry game, anything can happen.”  But with the Galaxy coming in having picked up just one point in their last nine MLS games and sitting 12 points outside the playoffs, it feels like a big opportunity for the Quakes to right the ship against their hated rivals when the two teams square off on Sunday Afternoon in Carson, CA for the fifth time across all competitions in 2017, the first and only one to be played in Southern California.

If the Quakes had built any momentum off last Saturday’s last gasp draw with the Philadelphia Union, it was quickly squandered Wednesday Night against a much more hungry Real Salt Lake.  RSL came out and dominated the Quakes from wire to wire in a 4-0 win that also featured 3 RSL shots hitting the left post, keeping the scoreline at a much more respectable ‘ugly.’

The Galaxy come in to Sunday’s game with similar issues.  Their scoreless streak currently stands at 264 minutes after being shut out Wednesday Night in a 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew.  Much like the Quakes on Wednesday, that scoreline would have been a lot worse if not for the heroics of Goalkeeper Jon Kempin, who made two big penalty kick saves to give the Galaxy a fighting chance.

Quakes Manager Chris Leitch went with the 3 man back line that finished out last Saturday’s match again on Wednesday, but after being routinely exposed in the back, the Quakes are expected to rotate some bodies in.  Flo Jungwirth and Nick Lima are still listed as Questionable, so look for either Andres Imperiale or Kofi Sarkodie to rotate in if those 2 are unable to go.  The Quakes will also be with out Midfielder Anibal Godoy following his 61st minute red card, which could possibly shift Fatai Alashe back to his natural holding midfield position, after spending the bulk of the last two matches playing along the back line.

The Galaxy have been hit hard by the injury bug all season but may get some welcome news in the midfield with the possible return of Giovani dos Santos (quad) and Jermaine Jones (toe), who both missed Wednesday’s match.  Both are still listed as “Out” on the MLS Injury Report but Manager Sigi Schmid told LA Galaxy Insider that he expects to have both players available for Sunday.

One player who will definitely not feature in Sunday’s match is Ashley Cole.  The former England International was sent off in the 16th minute of Wednesday’s match after a reckless tackle was confirmed a red card worthy offense by VAR.

Chris Wondolowski and Jahmir Hyka react as the LA Galaxy celebrate during their 4-2 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on May 27, 2017. Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge.

If Wednesday Night’s match with RSL was important for the Quakes to get their road trip started on the right foot, this match may be the most important because looking at the standings, the Quakes need to get all 3 against one of the few teams in the West not fighting for a Playoff berth.  A win on the road in a rivalry match not only boosts the Quakes in the standings, but would provide a big psycological boost as the calendar turns to September.  This will ultimately go down as a lost season for the Galaxy, who have been reduced to the role of spoiler; but who better to play that role on and build some momentum for a strong finish to build on in 2018 than their hated NorCal rival.

Cali Clasico may not get the buzz of the Hudson River Derby or have the history across different era of American Soccer that comes with a Portland/Seattle Cascadia Cup showdown, but make no mistake, this is one of the most important rivalries in MLS dating back to when the two teams first met at the Rose Bowl on April 21, 1996.  While it may be a down year for the Galaxy and the Quakes sitting mid-table, it’s still a rivalry game that you can throw out the standings and the stats and expect an entertaining match full of passion on the field and in the stands.

 

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