The Euros and Copa America are both in full swing yet the soccer continues today. The third and last California Clasico of 2016 between San Jose Earthquakes (5-4-6) and LA Galaxy (5-3-7) comes on at 7pm PT on Univision immediately following the USA – Colombia Copa Centennario, and though it won’t have the star power of Chris Wondolowski, Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Keane to guarantee goals, there are still plenty of reasons to tune in.
As recent tradition dictates, the Northern California version of the rivalry match will be held at Stanford Stadium with an expected crowd well over 50,000 being treated to a fantastical skydiving game ball delivery, halftime show dedicated to the armed forces and a fireworks display to close out the night. In between all that fanfare, the two teams seperated by just one point in the table will be playing for the glory of being ‘crowned’ winner of the series this year. Their previous two matches, both played at StubHub Center, ended 3-1 (Galaxy win) and 1-1, earlier in the season.
LA Galaxy have now been scoreless in their past 3 league matches, and winless in the last six. San Jose have been winless in their last four games but ended their mini goal-drought last Sunday against Orlando City FC when they came back from behind for a 2-2 tie. A renewed (and with a renewed contract) player-of-the-match, Shea Salinas, notched a goal in stoppage time and an assist in that match at the Citrus Bowl, and are looking for more against the Galaxy, likely as a substitute. The Earthquakes have a 3-1-0 record at Stanford Stadium when playing their Southern California opponents and have a powerful record at home so far, giving them an edge against LA.
San Jose’s Anibal Godoy and Alberto Quintero, along with Simon Dawkins, Matias Perez Garcia and Quincy Amarikwa are likely to start for the Earthquakes. Both Fatai Alashe and Godoy are on the caution accumulations warnings list. Daniel Steres is the only Galaxy player currently on that list and will have to watch out to not tally another yellow card tonight.
The noteable absences for the Galaxy will be overshadowed by the boost in power by a returning Steven Gerrard, Giovani dos Santos, and likely Ashley Cole who was out with minor injury this past Wednesday against the Rapids. Their contributions to team chemistry should reverberate tonight as more midfield creativity, giving Sebastian Lletget, Emmanuel Boateng and, if he plays again tonight, Jack McBean, a great deal of chances for finishes.
LA Galaxy’s Nigel de Jong theorizes, “we are rotating the offensive players the last couple of games and trying to figure out which system will work best for us especially in the front. There’s the absence of two important players with Robbie [Keane] and Gyasi [Zardes]. We had some injuries with Steven [Gerrard] and Giovani [dos Santos]. But they are back now and in full fitness for the next game, so hopefully they can give us a little bit of creativity that we’ve been lacking the last couple of games.” There’s little reason the Galaxy shouldn’t score goals tonight, but given the lengthy offensive downturn and the Earthquakes significant home advantage, LA could very well be coming back home black and blue.