Earthquakes hoping 50,000-strong crowd lights spark

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There will be more than 50,000 fans at Stanford Stadium on Saturday (10 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) for the latest edition of the California Clasico and San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop wants to make sure they don’t have to wait for the postgame fireworks to get excited.

“We want to get back on track, and there’s no better place to play than in front of 50,000 at home,” Yallop said as the Quakes ready to face a resurgent LA Galaxy. “It’s going to help us because of the enthusiasm driving us on, but it’s not going to put the ball in the back of the net. ... It’s up to us on the field to get them into the game.”

ESPN2 Preview: San Jose - LA Galaxy

That shouldn’t be a problem given the teams’ respective trajectories. San Jose (10-3-3) will look to consolidate its hold on first place in the Supporters’ Shield race, hard-won last week on a two-game road trip through the Rockies. The Galaxy (6-8-2), meanwhile, have put themselves back in the playoff race after three months of struggling in the wake of their third MLS Cup title.

“It’s a big game anyway, if you look at the standings,” Yallop said. “The defending champions are coming in after winning three in a row.”

Including US Open Cup and MLS regular-season play, Stanford Stadium is the Quakes’ fifth different home venue this season. But with the team focusing its marketing efforts on this date – and being rewarded by a sellout crowd that's set to eclipse last year’s 41,028 at Stanford as the club’s all-time, non-doubleheader attendance record – the stage is set for this year’s most electric atmosphere.

“You can’t beat that,” Yallop said of the sellout. “We’re excited. I’ll mention to the guys, let’s get the crowd behind us with everything we do: energy, fight and scrap.”

Quakes right back Steven Beitashour said players will be looking to feed off the energy, at least until kickoff.

“Before the game, [the crowd] can get you pumped up,” Beitashour said. “After the game, you can really enjoy it and drink it in. During the game, I don’t hear it. I’m just focused on the game.”

The one downside to Stanford is that the pitch will pinch a bit more narrowly than the Quakes’ regular home of Buck Shaw Stadium, perhaps making it more difficult for San Jose to free players such as Beitashour, Marvin Chávez or Shea Salinas on the sidelines to deliver crosses into the box.

“It’s a little tighter than normal, but we’ve got to be ready for anything,” Yallop said.

Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com.