LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Saturday 6/29/13 7:30 PM PDT, Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, CA. Time Warner Cable Sports.
Hosting the LA Galaxy at Stanford Stadium assures a season-high attendance for the San Jose Earthquakes. Last season, the Galaxy vs. Earthquakes matchup produced some of the most thrilling games in all of MLS. San Jose bossed the regular season meetings with two improbable come-from-behind wins (from two separate two-goal deficits) and a tie, while LA obliterated San Jose when it really counted: at San Jose 3-1 in the second game of the Western Conference Semifinals. These two teams have a long history of epic battles, and there is no love lost on the field or off. While San Jose are in second-to-last place in the West (just atop last week’s foe, Chivas USA), LA are holding the fourth position. Yet the margin between the two teams is narrower than you’d expect. While the Galaxy are only six points behind co-first-place RSL and Portland, San Jose are only six points behind LA.
The Earthquakes have fallen far from their Supporter’s Shield-winning, Goonies-Never-Say-Die heights of 2012. Management have already ditched one Canadian coach/MLS veteran for another in firing Frank Yallop and naming Mark Watson interim coach. In ditching Frank Yallop, the team is signalling they want to ditch the bruising style he employed to great effect last season, but which has led to suspensions and red cards this season. San Jose are 1-3-1 (W-L-D) in their last five MLS matches. Mark Watson has a win and a loss to his coaching name so far, and by several accounts, the two games he has coached tilted toward bruising, without a whiff of jogo bonito. Reigning MVP Chris Wondolowski was slated to miss Saturday’s game because of injury, but Wondo has since said he will play through his injury. The Bash Brothers Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart will also be available.
The LA Galaxy have a slightly better record their last five MLS games, at 2-2-1 (W-L-D). LA need to build on their winning-streak of one game. While the Galaxy dominated Chivas all over the field, the attack was seriously out of sync most of the time. Other than Gyasi Zardes’ excellent goal and shot that flashed wide, LA rarely threatened. Perhaps a solid week of practice with all the first-team players available can clean things up for Saturday. Saturday will be Landon Donovan’s last Galaxy game for some time. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has finally recalled Landon for the Gold Cup roster. If the US makes it to the final, Donovan will likely be absent for all of July. Expect Landon to showcase his sharpness Saturday as he tries to make it back to a starting spot with the US. As one player departs, another returns. Jose Villareal’s U-20 World Cup ended abruptly with a brutal loss Wednesday by the US to Ghana, 4-1. Bruce will likely rest Villareal for Saturday’s game. The Galaxy have their full-strength lineup available.