Photo by Robert Mora / LA Galaxy

Keep An Eye On: LA vs SJ

The LA Galaxy will return to action on Friday night to take on the visiting San Jose Earthquakes.

But who are we really kidding with this match preview? The big story is that Landon Donovan is retiring at the end of the season. Much like 2013, in 2015 the LA Galaxy will start the season without Donovan — but this time around, he’s not coming back.

The team will survive. New players will join, other players will move on, but the bottom line is that for this team, the current LA Galaxy team, the pressure to perform just got very real. And it’s from that point of view that the rest of this season will be viewed. Will the Galaxy be able to send Landon Donovan riding off into the sunset with one last MLS Cup?

To pull that off LA will need to continue their excellent run of form — starting by taking down the Earthquakes.

LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Both the Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes come off back-to-back wins. But with LA sittin’ pretty at 3rd in the conference – and San Jose down at 8th – that’s about all these two teams have in common. Ten points separate the two teams, with both having played 19 games. For now, LA still has the advantage of 1 to 3 games in hand over most of the league. But the schedule’s about to get frantic.

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The LA Galaxy have only lost once at home this season (6-1-2) and that was to Real Salt Lake way back at the first game of the season. It was a game they dominated, and one they should’ve taken points from. LA hasn’t made the same mistake since.

San Jose’s form on the road is the polar opposite. They’ve won just once away from the Bay Area (1-4-2) and taken points from only three of those seven games.

The Earthquakes know what they’re headed into: out of 26 meetings in Los Angeles, San Jose has won just five times. The LA Galaxy have won 17 of those meetings and the two teams have only settled for a draw four times.

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An unfortunate injury to the recently successful Earthquakes is Yannick Djalo. Djalo had to leave the Seattle game and is expected to miss 1-4 weeks with a right quadriceps strain. And LA Galaxy nemesis Stephen Lenhart will also miss this second leg of the California Classico. Lenhart just underwent knee surgery and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

For their part, the LA Galaxy should have a near-full compliment of players. Todd Dunivant returned to the 18 man roster against Portland and no other injuries, outside the longterm recovery of James Riley (and he’s apparently close to returning as well), should haunt this LA Galaxy starting eleven.

The only question about the LA Galaxy lineup is whether Landon Donovan, fresh off the All-Star game win and his retirement announcement, is down for the full 90 minutes.


But neither of these defenses like to give up goals. And there isn’t a much more physical defensive player than San Jose’s Victor Bernardez. Watching Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane, and Landon Donovan try and break down that strong daunting barrier should be the best matchup of the night.

On the opposite end, you can never sleep on the leagues best poacher: Chris Wondolowski will be a danger to Omar Gonzalez and AJ DeLaGarza. Wondo’s ability to find the ball in dangerous spots is, at this point, infamous. Anticipation from the back four for LA will have to be on-point. With seven goals for San Jose, Chris is their one consistent weapon.

For more information, we talked to LA Galaxy Assistant Coach, Pat Noonan about the team and the game on Thursday Morning’s “Corner of the Galaxy.”

These two teams don’t like each other. That fact, combined with the LA Galaxy’s latest-and-greatest reason to hunt for a Cup, should make for an excellent, competitive and physical outing.