CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have plenty of rivals: in-stadium rivals, conference rivals, eastern conference rivals, but no team moves the dial for the club quite like the San Jose Earthquakes.
2012 Playoff Highlights: San Jose 1, LA 3
Over the years, Galaxy matches against the Earthquakes have produced plenty of drama. Whether it was the epic comeback during the 2003 MLS Playoffs that saw San Jose score five answered goals to knock LA from the postseason or LA’s postseason victory last year, there is a history of dramatic and exciting games on both sides.
And on Saturday, the Galaxy may create more history as they face off against the Earthquakes on Stanford Stadium on Saturday.
“We know go from the SuperClasico to the California Clasico,” said defender Sean Franklin referencing the title for the two matches. “It’s always scrappy with San Jose over the years with the regular season games and, obviously, the playoffs last year. It’s going to be a tough game and a battle.”
Plenty has changed for the Earthquakes this year as San Jose currently find themselves near the bottom of the Western Conference just a year after winning the Supporters’ Shield. San Jose’s slump has already claimed one casualty as the Earthquakes parted ways with 2012 MLS Coach of the Year Frank Yallop earlier this month.
Taking the reins from Yallop is his longtime assistant Mark Watson, who has maintained the Earthquakes’ smash-and-grab physical style that helped them reach the postseason last year. However, San Jose has also sought to re-emphasize their strengths out wide with increased production from the likes of Shea Salinas.
View from the Booth
To date, Watson has gone 1-1-0, but he has dealt with injuries and will likely not have the services 2012 MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski on Saturday. No matter who suits up for San Jose, the Galaxy are ready for the challenge.
“It’ll be a really emotional and intense game especially because our history,” said defender Omar Gonzalez. “I think that it’s going to be a tough battle, but hopefully once that settles down, we can play the way that we want to and maintain our plan throughout 90 minutes and get the win.”
Saturday’s match promises a heated atmosphere on and off the field at a jam-packed Stanford Stadium, which will have at least 40,000+ fans in attendance on Saturday.
“There’s a lot to this,” said Dunivant. “It’s not just on the field, it’s off the field with the fans and it’s an intra-state rivalry with two good clubs and two clubs with a lot of championships.”
But is “the California Clásico” one of the best rivalries in MLS? Dunivant certainly believes that it is in the conversation.
“It’s an argument for sure. It’s been around a long time,” said Dunivant. “Last year with being a top team again, that’s when you get meaningful games and heated games, that’s what we got.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com