CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan knows the intricacies of the California Clasico, perhaps, more than any other player or coach in MLS.
From 2001 to 2003, Donovan was a thorn in the Galaxy's side as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes, leading the Quakes to two MLS Cup titles in 2001 -- scoring in San Jose's 2-1 defeat of the Galaxy -- and 2003. When the U.S. International joined the Galaxy in 2004, the script was flipped as Donovan began terrorizing his former club, time and time again. Perhaps no moment was more distinctive than in 2005, when he helped LA eliminate the Supporters' Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference Semifinals en route to LA's second MLS Cup title.
On Sunday, Donovan will once again be at the forefront as the pair face off in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinal.
Donovan addresses his current state of mind, what his position might be on Sunday, and the role that referee Ricardo Salazar will have on the match below...
(On his mood heading into the game...)
DONOVAN: “I feel great. This is as good as I’ve felt in a long time, so I’m excited for tomorrow.”
(On LA’s postseason experience being an advantage of a San Jose team that is relatively inexperienced in the postseason…)
DONOVAN: “Well, I said before the Vancouver game that our experience can help us, if we use it to our advantage. At the end of the day, it’s still a soccer game and it’s 11 v. 11, but if we’re smart and we put ourselves in good positions, then I think that our experience can be a big factor, but we got to get there first.”
(On whether he'd rather play as a forward or in the midfield against San Jose...)
DONOVAN: “I leave that up to Bruce. I always try to be a player that could do whatever a coach needed. Wherever he asks me to play, I’m more than happy to play, and I think a lot of it depends on how the guys come out from the game on Thursday.”
(On San Jose’s tactics…)
DONOVAN: “They’re a physical team there’s no question. They’re an aggressive team. I don’t think that they’re particularly dirty in the things that they do. I think that they definitely bend the rules as much as they can. You have to rely on the officiating to some extent, to make sure that they’re protecting guys and seeing things, and calling plays that deserve to be fouls. I think that they probably get away with some borderline fouls more than other teams do. Fortunately, we have a great referee doing this game. One who has been in a lot of these games, and knows what kind of game that San Jose plays. I have no question that he’s going to take care of us.”
(On his conversation with the referee pregame…)
DONOVAN: “Sometimes you say things to officials if things are blatantly obvious, but it’s not your job. It’s the job of the officials to do their job. Some days you get refs that don’t see things and miss things, and that’s all part of the game. You can miss it both ways. I think Ricardo has been great all year and I think he’s going to do a great job. He knows, trust me, he’s watched enough games and done enough San Jose games where he knows the types of things that they tend to get away with. So my guess is that won’t happen."
(On San Jose’s ability to test the Galaxy…)
DONOVAN: “They test your ability to concentrate for 90 minutes. There’s a few teams in this league that if you’re not good on the day then they can really beat you, not just beat you, but beat you handily. San Jose has scored a bunch of goals on us this year, the moments that we haven’t been sharp, they’ve been good, and they’ve got three or four guys, who can absolutely punish you if you make mistakes and they’ve done that against us this year.”