CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy players insist they have not talked about the last time they played the San Jose Earthquakes, nor have they watched any replays of that memorable June encounter at Stanford Stadium. But they definitely remember it after the Earthquakes scored twice in second half stoppage time to claim a stunning 3-2 victory.
The winners of the last three Supporters’ Shields meet again Saturday at StubHub Center (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes, KTLK 1150 AM. KWKW 1330 AM, LIVE CHAT) for the second of three meetings between the two longtime Western Conference rivals. Despite suffering a crushing loss the last time they faced San Jose, the Galaxy insist they’ve put that loss behind them.
“Games like that happen throughout the season,” said Landon Donovan, who signed a new multi-year contract with the Galaxy on Wednesday. “Things happen, and you just have to move on.
“We feel now like we’ve gotten over the hump a little bit as far as late goals and concentrating late in games. We want to keep progressing.”
Donovan’s strike partner, Robbie Keane, agrees that payback will not enter into Saturday’s rematch and that the Galaxy are concentrating on one thing only, “just getting three points.”
Any points are critical in a tightly-contested Western Conference race. Real Salt Lake are in first place with 45 points, followed by the Galaxy with 40, Colorado and Portland at 39, Seattle and FC Dallas at 37 and Vancouver at 36.
San Jose, which is coming off a 1-0 loss to CD Heredia on Wednesday in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League, are still is right in the midst of the playoff picture with 34 points, leaving them three points behind the fifth and playoff spot. The Earthquakes, however, will be short-handed Saturday because of the unavailability of defenders Victor Bernardez and Justin Morrow and midfielder Rafael Baca who are all suspended for the game.
“This is sort of crunch time now and we have to win all these games,” Donovan said. “The west is going to stay crowded and teams are playing each other. If we can put a few wins together we can make some progress up the table.
“Obviously playing San Jose is a little more exciting, but we gotta win the game. Period. End of story.”
The Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez, who along with Donovan was called up to the U.S. National Team for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico, said he has learned to expect the unexpected when these rivals get together.
“Definitely,” he said. “You have to be on your toes, keep your head on a swivel and be ready for anything. These games bring a lot of passion, heart and fight. It’s going to be a fun game for the crowd, it’s going to be a fun game for us on the field.
“We’re just looking for a good battle.”