Galaxy, Earthquakes square off in California Clasico
Palo Alto, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The first California Clasico of the season kicks off at Stanford Stadium on Saturday as the San Jose Earthquakes meet up with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The two sides enter the contest separated by one point, although both are outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
San Jose won back-to-back games before suffering a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC in its last outing, while the Galaxy was held to a 1-1 draw by Chivas USA that extended its unbeaten run to four games.
The Earthquakes gave away a penalty kick in the 25th minute that was converted by TFC's Jermain Defoe, accounting for the lone goal of the contest.
And although San Jose was pretty disappointing going forward for much of the match, head coach Mark Watson was pleased with the way his side turned up the pressure to close out the contest.
"I didn't think we were that dangerous going forward. We had a few balls in the box but other than that we were not overly creative," said Watson. "A little bit disappointing on that, that is something we need to work on but at the end of the game we went forward and got a lot of balls forward and had a couple of half chances. Disappointing overall but it's always nice when your guys respond and make a game of it."
The Earthquakes were bounced from the U.S. Open Cup on penalty kicks by Seattle Sounders FC on June 24, and the team will be missing both forward Chris Wondolowski and defender Victor Bernardez, who are away on World Cup duty.
Los Angeles is also missing a key defender in Omar Gonzalez due to World Cup duty, and his absence, along with a few injuries, has forced head coach Bruce Arena to shuffle his back line.
One player who has been moved around a bit is A.J. DeLaGarza, who shifted inside to play alongside Leonardo in the last match against Chivas.
"At this point I don't have a preference between center or left back, I have played both quite a bit, I am comfortable at both," DeLaGarza said. "Going back and forth is a little difficult, but I have been there, this is my sixth year."
Arena is also hoping that his top two offensive options, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, can return to full fitness after both have been recovering from minor knocks over the World Cup break.
06/27 19:17:00 ET