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Things have changed significantly since the last time the San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy met in the California Clasico.
The 3-1 loss for the Earthquakes in late June remains as their last defeat in MLS this season.
Reorganized into a more pragmatic structure by manager Matias Almeyda, the Quakes are now undefeated in their last nine matches.
The Galaxy, on the other hand, have been inconsistent since June.
And although they went through a short four-game undefeated streak, that run was cut short on Tuesday night when they lost 2-1 at home to the Colorado Rapids.
Without star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, the Galaxy don’t look the same.
San Jose will make this cross-state rivalry a close one.
|LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes Information|
|Teams||LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes|
|Location||Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles, California)|
|Time||Friday, August 20th at 7:30pm PT/10:30 pm ET|
|How to Watch||ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes|
Things have seriously changed for the Quakes.
Once a full-throttle and attack-minded team, they’ve now taken a step back with Almeyda bringing his players further into their own half and taking fewer chances.
This won’t be the same San Jose that lost 3-1 in June, and within just two months, he has transformed them into a group that have only allowed six goals in their last eight games.
It’s a complete turnaround for them, and although they’ve only collected two wins from those eight, they’ve managed to frustrate their opponents who have finished with countless stalemates.
Heading into Friday, the good news for the Quakes is that the Galaxy might not have their top striker available for the rivalry match.
“Chicharito is starting to take some of those back-to-playing steps that we need him to take,” said Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney before their latest loss to the Rapids on Tuesday.
We’re not going to rush him through this. Step by step, he’s making progress. We’re good with that.
Regardless of the fact that the Mexican is undoubtedly their best goalscorer — and perhaps the best goalscorer in MLS — Vanney is taking no chances with his player that is recovering from an injury.
Hernandez hasn’t played since June, and even if he makes his return this week, he’ll likely be missing some match fitness and not be at 100% for the Galaxy.
If Chicharito is once again missing or just on the bench, this will be music to the ears of San Jose’s Almeyda.
Denying goalscoring chances for his opponents has become Almeyda’s new specialty, and with Hernandez recovering from injury, San Jose’s job will be much easier than expected.
Outside of Hernandez and Rayan Raveloson, the Galaxy have no players who have scored four or more goals so far this season.
So with the Galaxy attempting to resolve their striker situation, Almeyda can happily sit back and complicate things with another low-scoring game.
On the other end of the pitch, the Galaxy may even do some help of their own with keeping this level.
After the Galaxy’s latest defeat, it might be tempting for Vanney to bring in the Man Of The Match from their previous win: Goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann.
Last Saturday, the 24-year-old was lights out in the Galaxy’s 1-0 away win over Minnesota United.
Outshot 21 to 10 by Minnesota, the Galaxy were able to clinch three points thanks to Klinsmann’s seven highlight-worthy saves in net.
Vanney himself had to give credit to the goalkeeper as well for the victory.
“We don’t come away with the three points without the performance that he had,” said Galaxy’s coach about Klinsmann after the match from last week.
Usual starter Jonathan Bond wasn’t exactly terrible in his latest showing, but if Vanney is looking to give a chance to someone with more recent confidence, the easy answer could be Klinsmann.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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