CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are steadily climbing the Western Conference standings and after their 3-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes, they sit just five points behind Supporters’ Shield leaders Real Salt Lake—with two games in hand.
The reason for LA’s impressive four game unbeaten run and three game winning streak in league play? Simple. Forwards Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
During the Galaxy’s four-game unbeaten streak in league play, Keane and Donovan have accounted for 10 of LA’s 11 goals scored, and they have combined for 16 goals and 14 assists in the 11 games that they’ve played together this season.
On Saturday, they were once again effective as their movement on and off the ball caused havoc for the Earthquakes defense as Donovan scored the opener before Keane notched a brace in the California Clásico victory.
When you ask the pair about their recent run of form, they both provide the same answer: They’re just happy to be on the field together.
“I feel real good about how I’m playing. I’m just enjoying it a lot, I’m really happy out there. The energy seems to come to me really easy right now and I think when I’m energetic I create a lot of chances,” said Donovan. “It doesn’t mean I’m always going to score, but if I’m energetic I think I’m always going to be effective and that’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
“I know I was out for a few weeks [back in July] but I keep saying I don’t like being injured, it’s frustrating,” said Keane. “So it’s just nice to be back playing and scoring the goals and helping the team progress and get the points on the board.”
CARSON, Calif. – The California Clásico is always a physical battle with plenty of knocks and bumps on both sides and in the closing stages of Saturday’s 3-0 LA Galaxy victory over the San Jose Earthquakes, defender A.J. DeLaGarza felt the brunt of that physical play.
In the 82nd minute, Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart crashed into DeLaGarza on a set piece opportunity that left the defender on the ground. A minute later, DeLaGarza was removed from the match in favor of Michael Stephens as the effects of the injury still lingered.
Following the match, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said that DeLaGarza simply suffered a knock that was not serious and the defender echoed those statements.
“I’ll be fine. I’m sure that it’ll be a nice Charlie horse in the morning. He got me in my thigh and he clearly went out of his way to do that,” said DeLaGarza. “They’ll look at it and he’s obviously a repeat offender and whatever happens, happens.”
Although he literally “took one for the team,” DeLaGarza was simply pleased to get a result that sealed LA’s fourth straight win and third straight shutout.
“It’s big and the confidence is definitely rising. To get a shutout in Vancouver and two at home is positive,” said DeLaGarza. “We're all making those plays now that we weren't making earlier in the year.
“We got three points and a shutout where they didn't have many chances on goal so it’s a real positive.”
CARSON, Calif. – Bruce Arena’s thoughts following the LA Galaxy’s 3-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes…
(On the match as a whole…)
ARENA: “I think our team played well tonight. San Jose played real hard in the first half, came out hard. The first goal was very important. I think they threw a lot into the game in the first half. You can see in the second half they lost their legs a little bit. Our team played well. It was a game winner. As the game went on, our passing improved. I thought we scored some good goals. Overall, a good performance. A good team effort.”
(On Franklin’s play out wide and whether he’d stay there indefinitely…)
ARENA: “I can’t tell you that. We’ve played that way a fair number of times this year. Sean has played right midfield over a number of years. It’s not a new position for him.”
(On DeLaGarza’s injury status…)
ARENA: “I think that he just took a knock. I don’t think that it’s serious.”
(On the importance of the game with four internationals missing next week…)
ARENA: “Every game is important. What can I tell you? The next game is important. I’m asked that question game every week. They are all very important. We want to win every time we step onto the field. They are all important at this point in the season.”
(On the play of the Earthquakes…)
ARENA: “Mike Stephens made a mistake at the end of the game, which probably gave them their best chance. They had a couple shots from distance throughout the game. There may have been a corner kick in the second half, as well. They were dangerous. Overall, our entire group played very well. Our backline was fantastic. Jaime has a good presence in the goal, as well.”
On the play of Jaime Penedo:
“He’s an experienced goalkeeper. When called on, he’s come up for us in the last three or four games. He’s certainly going to get tested a little bit more. I think he’s played very well. He’s given up two goals in four games. Jaime’s obviously doing well.”
Look ahead to San Jose: The LA Galaxy looking to get first home win against the San Jose Earthquakes since 2011
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy will take on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday in the latest edition of the California Clasico. On Saturday, LA will be looking for their first victory against the San Jose Earthquakes at home since Aug. 2011.
More on the match below...
*For more on the Earthquakes, I spoke to San Jose reporter Robert Jonas.
*There's no love lost between these two teams as Sean Franklin admits that niether of these two teams care for one another.
*LAGalaxy.com's Larry Morgan offers this preview to the match.
*Lastly, my Three Points to the game.
MATCH UPS TO WATCH:
Landon Donovan vs. Jason Hernandez
Without Victor Bernardez due to suspension, Hernandez will be stepping in for San Jose. Although the 30-year-old is an experienced defender, he does not have the physicality of the Honduran center back and is expected to be a major target for Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Gyasi Zardes vs. Steve Beitashour
With each passing match, Gyasi Zardes continues to become a focal point of the Galaxy attack and expect him to be a major part of the game plan against San Jose. With Beitashour looking to press forward, expect Zardes to try to catch him on the counter.
Chris Wondolowski vs. Omar Gonzalez
This battle of the titans will likely decide this match. Wondolowski's effectiveness has been limited due to the Earthquakes' more restrained attacking style, but he'll still seek to get behind Gonzalez and create chances.
Penedo; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Dunivant; Jimenez, Sarvas, Juninho, Zardes; Donovan, Keane
Ahead of tonight's California Clasico, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and players Todd Dunivant and Hector Jimenez preview the match against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Check it out below..
CARSON, Calif. – The California Clásico is back, considered by many to be the vicious rivalry in all of MLS.
Earlier this week, I spoke to several members of the Galaxy defense about the ferocity of the Clásico.
Their thoughts are below…
SEAN FRANKLIN: “The recent games have been high scoring with goals in the last minute and we had a tough playoff series as well, so we’ve got plenty of history. It’s a team that we don’t like and we know that they don’t like us, so it’s going to be a tough game.”
TODD DUNIVANT: “They’re going to be hungry and they always circle our games as the biggest of their year. It’s a rivalry that has been there for a long time especially the last year-and-a-half. Going back to last year, going back to Stanford Stadium this year, there’s been a lot of heated games and a lot of exciting games, unfortunately we’ve been on the rough end of a couple of them. It’s going to be a big game and we expect them to give nothing but their best.”
A.J. DELAGARZA: “This is a team where we’ve left points on the table in the last couple of years. It’s a game that we get up for and it’s the California Clásico, so it’s a rivalry game. We’re going to need to play well and get a W because they’re missing three key guys and we have to take advantage of that. At the same time, we know that they can bring in experienced guys as well.”
Penedo is expected to get the start in net against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday and will then depart for Panama ahead of their World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and Honduras next week.
Earlier this week, Penedo was asked about his clutch save on Jordan Harvey in the 82nd minute of LA's 1-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC and even the Panamanian 'keeper struggled to hold back a laugh.
"If a goalkeeper tries to explain a save like that, I think that they're lying. In a situation like that, a forward has a microchip in his mind that says that he's going to score. A goalkeeper has in his mind, a microchip that he can stop the ball," said Penedo. "What I did in that situation, I got up from the field and ran, ran, ran till I got the ball."
In the lead up to Saturday's California Clasico match between the LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes, I spoke with the finest reporter covering the Earthquakes beat, Robert Jonas.
Jonas of Centerline Soccer and Quake, Rattle and Goal broke down the Earthquakes and their recent struggles. Currently, San Jose is in eighth place in the Western Conference, but just three points behind fifth place Seattle Sounders FC for the final playoff berth -- albeit with two extra games played.
LA Galaxy Insider: What's the Earthquakes' mindset heading into this game?
JONAS: "Unlike last year where they were willing to stand toe to toe with teams and outslug them in 3-2 games, this year -- especially under new head coach Mark Watson -- they've been becoming a more defensive team and are trying to choose their chances on offense carefully. They're not getting the same type of service that they were last year, so the 72 goals that they scored last year was certainly an aberration, and they're well below that this year. This year, they've tried to manage the game the best that they can on the defensive side and take their chances selectively on offense."
LAGI: With the Earthquakes taking few chances does it limit the effectiveness of Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski?
JONAS: “It limits the chances that [the forwards] are getting which is the reason that their goals are down. A 1-0 game gets the same number of points as a 3-2 win, so they’re not getting the chances to pump in as many goals. Are they less effective? I think you’re seeing them play a little farther back on the field, especially Wondolowski, who is willing to track back on the defensive side. It’s definitely affected his goal output and it’s not surprising given the mentality change.”
LAGI: The Earthquakes will be without the services of Victor Bernardez, Rafael Baca and Justin Morrow due to suspension, how will this impact the team?
JONAS: “It is a big loss for the Quakes, but nothing that they haven’t experience all season as injuries and suspensions have been a running theme this year. With Victor Bernárdez, you’ll probably see Jason Hernandez pair up with Clarence Goodson in central defense. Jason has a lot of experience with the Earthquakes and is the longest tenured Earthquake at the moment. He’s played in the last couple of games so he has his feet under him, so that should be an easy switch. Maybe he’s not as effective, but definitely someone who is comfortable out there. The big question is who replaces Rafael Baca as he and Sam Cronin have formed an almost anonymous central midfield duo that works extremely hard on the defensive side ball and so effectively together that it’s a big question mark. A player like Walter Martinez might be able to step in there as he did so earlier in the season as an almost attacking midfielder, which would allow Cronin to drop into a defensive midfield role. In talking to Mark Watson, he’s keeping his options open and is still considering guys who slide in there like wingers Marvin Chavez and Jaime Alas or even a wildcard like the defensive-minded Brad Ring.”
LAGI: The Earthquakes will be going up against LA's physical center back tandem of Leonardo and Omar Gonzalez, might their physicality hamper the San Jose attack?
JONAS: “It’s an issue that has presented itself all season. Any physical center back duo has given Alan Gordon, Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski trouble. The Earthquakes aren’t going to sneak up on anyone anymore, so if a lot of the game is dependent on aerial attack then a lot of defenders can key in on that and do an effective job of stopping them. The fact that Omar Gonzalez is such an effective player in the air, is not going to do the Earthquakes any favors.”
LAGI: How can the Earthquakes win this game?
JONAS: “For the Earthquakes to even get a result, they’re going to have to complement the playing style of LA. From my perspective, it’s all about limiting the passes, limiting the attacking runs that LA does so well in the attacking third, and maybe playing deeper in the field. We know how dangerous that LA is on the counter attack and I think that we’re going to have to see the same thing out of the Earthquakes if they’re going to go poach goals in this game. For them to get all three points, it starts with playing strong defensively and keeping the game scoreless as long as possible, and then poaching a goal in the second half. This isn’t the Goonies anymore. They don’t just come back naturally—or unnaturally if you will—they have to be much more disciplined with their chances.”
LAGI: Your prediction?
JONAS: “I predict that the Earthquakes can keep it close for a while, but given their struggles and the fact that they have one road victory in all competitions this season, a draw would be the best case scenario. But I see a late goal leading to a loss.”
In the latest edition of View from the Booth, Joe Tutino and Cobi Jones analyze the California Clasico between the LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes.
Check it out below...
CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan is back with the full U.S. National Team.
Donovan and Omar Gonzalez both received calls to join the U.S. squad for their World Cup qualifiers and each spoke about the task ahead of them in this piece on LAGalaxy.com.
The call for Donovan is his first World Cup qualifier call since June of last year and Gonzalez is particularly enthusiastic to have him back with the full squad.
“I’m very excited to have him there,” said the Galaxy defender. “This whole year, he hasn’t been there with the national team and I think that we’re really good friends and to have him there to bounce some things off him, since he has so much experience, is going to be great for myself.