Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez moved into double figures in goals for the 2021 MLS season, netting a brace to help the LA Galaxy to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the latest Cali Clasico Saturday at PayPal Park.
With his ninth and 10th goals of the season, Hernandez moved one goal clear of Seattle Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz in the battle for the Golden Boot presented by Audi. The goals, added to by an own goal from Florian Jungwirth, also keep the Galaxy third in the Western Conference and within touching distance of the Sounders and Sporting Kansas City at the top of the standings.
Just a month after the sides' last meeting and a 1-0 win for the Galaxy, Greg Vanney's team took less than 11 minutes to strike first. Offseason arrival Samuel Grandsir registered his first assist in MLS with the type of inviting cross the Hernandez has been feasting on throughout his career. The Mexico striker duly delivered, with his expert movement allowing him a close-range finish.
In a first half that failed to see a single shot on target for San Jose, the home side's highlight was coach Matias Almeyda briefly stepping onto the field and showcasing some of his old sharpness with his feet, much to the chagrin of Vanney.
Things picked up for San Jose after the break and they came agonizingly close to an equalizer in the 49th minute. Javier "Chofis" Lopez was allowed to cut into the area from wide on the right and unleashed a powerful left-foot effort that came back off Jonathan Bond's near post and left Lopez falling to the turf in frustration.
San Jose's misery was compounded just a minute later when Hernandez made it 2-0. In similar fashion to the opening goal, Hernandez delivered the ball out wide, this time to Kevin Cabral, before making his way into the box and converting a low cross into the back of the net.
Lopez should have reduced San Jose's arrears just before the hour mark with another opportunity on his left foot but this time, from an even better position, he drilled the ball wide of the near post.
And the result was put beyond doubt with 20 minutes remaining as Jungwirth turned the ball into his own net following a cross from Cameron Dunbar.
At least the night didn't end before San Jose fans were given something to smile about, courtesy of a late consolation from 17-year-old homegrown Cade Cowell who grabbed his third goal of the season with a sharp left-footed finish from the edge of the box.
- 11' - LA - Javier Hernandez
- 50' - LA - Javier Hernandez
- 70' - LA - Florian Jungwirth (OG)
- 82' - SJ - Cade Cowell