Chicharito will need to find his form as the LA Galaxy get ready for the San Jose Earthquakes. Will Yony González be the missing piece for the club?
The LA Galaxy will be looking for a boost from Colombian winger Yony Gonzalez and perhaps even struggling striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez when the five-time MLS Cup champions travel to San Jose on Saturday to take on the Earthquakes at Earthquakes Stadium (7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet).
The game will mark the third meeting of the season between the California Clasico combatants, with the Galaxy winning 3-2 on Aug. 29 at Dignity Health Sports Park and the sides settling for a 0-0 draw on Sept. 13 in San Jose.
Both clubs have had their problems lately, with San Jose (3-6-5, 14 points and last in the Western Conference) snapping a nine-game winless streak (0-6-3) with a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles FC at Banc of California Stadium last Sunday. The Galaxy (4-6-3, 15 points), on the other hand, are losers of three consecutive games, winless in four (0-3-1), and haven’t won since beating LAFC 3-0 on Sept. 6.
Gonzalez, pronounced “ready to play” by Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto on Thursday despite training with the team for only a few days, could provide a much-needed lift. The speedy 26-year-old, who was acquired on loan from Portugal’s SL Benfica in mid-August, said he can’t wait to get on the field.
“I’m looking forward to helping the team,” he said. “The process (of getting here) has been difficult, but that’s in the past and now I’m focused on helping the team qualify for the playoffs, which is the first objective and scoring and obviously, making my debut first.”
Then there is Hernandez, who has been nothing short of a major disappointment since he joined the Galaxy in late January. The 32-year-old striker, Mexico’s all-time leading scorer, has played in seven games (including five starts) and has just one goal and no assists in 509 minutes.
His lone goal was in a 2-1 loss to Portland in the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla., on July 13.
Hernandez said he has paid no attention to those voicing their concerns about his surprisingly ineffective play.
“I know nothing about that because people aren’t going to believe that I don’t read anything,” he said of growing criticism. “I just speak with the manager (Schelotto), and the manager is happy with my performances.
“Obviously he would love for all of us to improve in a soccer way, you know what I mean? I always try to give my best effort … even today he said my stats are very good, that he’s very happy with that.”
He also said the team’s morale remains high despite the sudden downturn.
“The attitude of the team is positive, wanting to improve and move forward,” he said. “We want positive results, we want victories, we want to convert this in a positive way.
“Right now we don’t have a good run of games. We want to win, we want to play in a very attractive way for our fans and get three points every time we play in MLS. Hopefully Saturday in San Jose we can get the three points and get some momentum, a very good run of victories and qualify for the playoffs.”
Chris Wondolowski leads the Earthquakes with four goals, with Cristian Espinoza contributing a team-high six assists. Cristian Pavon tops the Galaxy with six goals and five assists, but he hasn’t scored since that September victory over LAFC. He also is coming off a 3-1 loss to Seattle in which he was held to just one shot.
Pavon, however, could find the Earthquakes to his liking. He had a season-high five shots against them on Aug. 29.