The two oldest teams in California meet to close out the MLS 2023 weekend in the early hours of Monday morning, UK time, when LA Galaxy go up against the San Jose Earthquakes in the first Cali-Clasico of the campaign.
Matches between these two sides are usually quite big given the history of them but this one feels bigger than usual given the slow start to the season for the Galaxy and the quicker one that the Earthquakes have made.
I don’t think there would be many MLS followers who would have seen this start to the season for the LA Galaxy coming. After Sporting Kansas City won on Saturday, the Galaxy will kick off in this match bottom of the Western Conference table with just the one win from their opening 10 games. The big concern for Greg Vanney and his coaching staff is that it is hard to argue that they have deserved much more than they have to show for their efforts.
They will be hoping that the derby nature and the fact that this is a standalone game with plenty of profile to it will bring the best out of their big players. They can rightly argue that the injury to Javier Hernandez in the earlier part of the season certainly hasn’t helped them, but things haven’t turned around too much since he has come back. Galaxy have to start scoring more goals. They only have eight in 10 matches and in a high scoring league that doesn’t cut the mustard.
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San Jose Earthquakes
There has definitely been improvement in the play and the style of the San Jose Earthquakes in recent times but they have just lacked a bit of steel to get the results those performances have deserved. Lucho Gonzalez has come in and immediately they are getting the right balance of looking good while picking up points and their victory over Los Angeles FC last week marked them down as potential dangers in the Western Conference.
Such has been the positive start the Earthquakes have had to this season, they will move up to third if they can come away from this game with a win. For that to happen it would mean that they have to win their first away game of the season and you sense that is the next step for this exciting young team. If they can begin to win more on their travels then there is nothing to say they can’t be a real feature in the competition this season. They certainly don’t lack for star talent with Cristian Espinoza a possible MVP candidate so far this term.
I’m expecting to see goals in this match. I think the time has come where LA Galaxy have to start taking some risks and getting men forward to try and win matches else their MLS campaign is going to be dead before it gets a third of its way into its existence. They already sit six points off a play-off spot and eight off a guaranteed one but with this being the MLS equivalent of a primetime game you would imagine that their star names will want to show what they can do here.
San Jose Earthquakes have had no issues scoring goals this season. Only the top three and Portland Timbers have scored more than them in the Western Conference this term and just like the Galaxy players, their better individuals will want to show their talents in what is the high profile game of the week. Matches between these two teams have historically been high scoring with MLS rivalries tending to create crazy games rather than the tense offerings UK derbies throw up. I like over 3 goals here.
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