Friday will see the second California Clásico of the MLS season take place as the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes face off at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The definitive game occurs one day after Landon Donovan announced his retirement from professional soccer at the close of the 2014 MLS season. Though Donovan has donned jerseys for both teams, he is eager to finish his last season with a championship for the Galaxy. A win against the Quakes will put the Galaxy one step closer to achieving that task.
Friday’s match will be the teams’ second meeting this season. The teams met for the first time in late June, and saw the Galaxy come away with a late game-winner to post a 1-0 victory over the Quakes. Marcelo Sarvas set up Gyasi Zardes in the box, and Zardes was able to pound the ball in the back of the net, further developing the player’s sterling potential to impress this season.
Both teams enter today’s match piggy-backing off impressive performances. Last weekend San Jose snagged its second win in a row with a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders at the three-week-old Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco. San Jose’s Yannick Djaló scored the team’s winning goal in the 42nd minute, bringing the player’s total goals scored this season to three.
Galaxy had an eventful match against the Portland Timbers last Saturday, coming from behind to secure a 3-1 victory. Just 14 minutes into the match, Galaxy goalkeeper Jamie Penedo misread a freekick that put them behind 1-0. However, a wonderful sequence of passing yielded an equalizer for the Galaxy at the end of the first half.
A pair of short passes in the midfield ultimately found Robbie Rogers out wide, who then had the cross into the box. Zardes was able to get on the end of it, bringing the score to 1-1. In the second half, Donovan found Robbie Keane in the box to put the game at 2-1, and the scoring concluded with Keane converting a penalty kick in the 85th minute.
Galaxy is currently 3rd in the Western Conference with a record of 9-4-6, and there is no reason for coach Bruce Arena to change up his 4-4-2 lineup much, if at all. San Jose, on the other hand, may have to make do without its squad’s game-changing striker, Djaló. The Portuguese player is reported to have a strained quad, and coach Mark Watson said in a press conference that recovery time has been estimated to anywhere from one to four weeks. The Quakes are currently in 8th place with a record of 6-8-5, so the potential absence of Djaló puts San Jose at more of a disadvantage.
Friday’s California Clásico between Galaxy and San Jose is set to take place at 7:30 PST and will be definitive for both teams, not just because of the high stakes of the rivalry itself, but also in terms of MLS Western Conference standings. As always, one can expect a high-intensity match and a solid effort from both sides.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson