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SAN JOSE, Calif.
7 pm PT (HDNet; FSW/E [TD]; KCAL)
Once again the "California Clasico" has more than just three points riding on it, as both teams look to escape late-season ruts that have put their playoff hopes in peril. The home-standing San Jose Earthquakes are currently out of the playoff places after losing a third consecutive game last weekend to the Kansas City Wizards. But the Galaxy are in a longer spiral downward, with just one win in nine matches and now in third place in the Western Conference - and while they are still within striking distance of the top, they are also just four points ahead of the last-place Quakes.
REFEREE: Kevin Terry. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Tom Supple; 4th: Richard Heron
MLS Career: 98 games; FC/gm: 30.4; Y/gm: 2.7; R: 32; pens: 41
Games involving Earthquakes: P19 W8 L8 T3; FC/gm: 29.7; Y/gm: 2.5; R: 7; pens: 9
Games involving Galaxy: P25 W10 L13 T2; FC/gm: 29.5; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 10; pens: 12
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Chris Aloisi (L knee MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MD Ned Grabavoy (L hip flexor); DF Hong Myung-Bo (L calf strain); FW Jovan Kirovski (R knee tendonitis); FW Carlos Ruiz (R hamstring strain); MD Marcelo Saragosa (R hip flexor); DF Scot Thompson (L knee sprain) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); QUESTIONABLE: FW Dwayne DeRosario (L groin strain); DF Ramiro Corrales (L hamstring strain); MD Ronnie Ekelund (L calf strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: LA: Chris Albright (through Sept. 25)
YELLOW PERIL: SJ: Troy Dayak (18 CP); Landon Donovan (16 CP); Brian Mullan (16 CP) ... LA: Andreas Herzog (10 CP in 2 gms)
This is the fourth and final league meeting of the season for the California rivals, with each team having won on their home ground in the three earlier encounters.
Two Saturdays ago, another hard-fought California Clasico saw Steve Sampson given his first victory as a professional club coach in a 2-1 Galaxy win on Victoria Street.
Sasha Victorine gave the home side the lead on 36 minutes. He potted the rebound of an Alejandro Moreno header from a pinpiont Andreas Herzog cross that rattled the woodwork, perfectly placed to knock the ball into the unguarded goal.
The Galaxy then doubled their lead with a quarter-hour left, Arturo Torres scoring his first MLS goal after being sent in by Peter Vagenas, slotting the ball inside Pat Onstad's right-hand post.
The Quakes pulled a goal back just two minutes with a thundering drive from Ronnie Ekelund from the top of the penalty area that crashed off the underside of the bar, just over the goal line and back out.
Here's Sampson's team (4-4-1-1): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Tyrone Marshall, Ryan Suarez (Danny Califf 86), Paul Broome - Cobi Jones (Arturo Torres 72), Marcelo Saragosa, Peter Vagenas, Sasha Victorine - Andreas Herzog (Joseph Ngwenya 64) - Alejandro Moreno
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel (Chris Brown 76), Jeff Agoos, Troy Dayak, Todd Dunivant (Eddie Robinson 69) - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund, Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales (Ian Russell 66) - Landon Donovan, Brian Ching.
The Galaxy came back to claim an ill-tempered 2-1 victory on Victoria Street on July 4 in a game that saw Carlos Ruiz return to league play with a double - and referee Kevin Stott hand out nine bookings, including sending off San Jose's Brian Mullan with seven minutes remaining for a second yellow card.
Dwayne DeRosario slotted home in the 41st minute after the Galaxy failed to clear their end on a number of occasions, but Ruiz pulled the home side four minutes later when he bundled over a corner kick from almost on the goal line. Ruiz then finished off a flowing counterattack 10 minutes after the restart, side-footing home from the heart of the area to provide the margin of victory.
After Mullan was sent off the Galaxy desperately held on, Craig Waibel seemingly hitting for the equalizer only for substitute Ricky Lewis to clear off the line.
The Quakes claimed a 4-2 victory at Spartan Stadium on May 22 in their first meeting. The Quakes jumped out to a 3-0 lead shortly after the halftime interval, thanks largely to a pair of goals from Brian Ching. He first headed home a corner just before the break, then knocked home a Dwayne DeRosario cross with his chest from close range three minutes after the restart.
Then in the 54th minute, Brian Mullan ripped a drive on the run from inside the area to triple the lead. But the Galaxy mounted a furious comeback, first Andreas Herzog collecting a Joseph Ngwenya cross before firing home from 15 yards (61), then the Zimbabwean rookie heading home a Ned Grabavoy free kick.
Yet just five minutes later the Quakes responded, DeRosario dancing through a host of Galaxy defenders from the left touchline before beating Kevin Hartman inside his near post to round out the scoring.
A year ago, each team won once (each at home) in league play - to set the stage for their remarkable playoff series. The Earthquakes won 1-0 on April 26 in San Jose (Donovan 54 pen), then the teams played to a 1-1 draw on June 18 on Victoria Street (Victorine 21 - Walker 63).
The Galaxy won the first of their home-and-home season-ending series 3-0 on Oct. 18 at the HDC (Moreno 6, 35; Elliott 61), then they again played to a 1-1 draw at Spartan Stadium a week later (Walker 80 - Moreno 56).
A week later, the Galaxy took the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal series, winning 2-0 at home (Victorine 59, Ruiz 62) to set up one of the most amazing comebacks ever in the return leg. The Galaxy scored twice inside the opening quarter-hour, before the Quakes came back with five goals - including a stoppage-time leveler on aggregate and an extra-time winner, to claim the series 5-4 on aggregate (Agoos 21, Donovan 35, Walker 50, Roner 90, Faria 96 - Ruiz 7, Vagenas 13).
It was the second consecutive bitter postseason defeat of the Galaxy in a "California Clasico", after the Quakes won the 2001 MLS Cup Final on a Dwayne DeRosario golden-goal winner. The Galaxy advanced in a 1996 playoff series, 2 games to 1.
The Galaxy have won four of the last eight league meetings over the last two seasons, with two draws. Los Angeles has won the season series five of eight seasons.
The Galaxy have also been the Quakes bogey team in the U.S. Open Cup, three times (2000, 2001, 2002) eliminating their California rivals, including on penalties in 2001 and in extra time in 2002.
Cobi Jones leads current Galaxy players with 2 goals, 11 assists against the Earthquakes, second on the club's all-time list (to Mauricio Cienfuegos - 4 goals, 12 assists). Carlos Ruiz is next among current players with 6 goals, 2 assists, while Sasha Victorine has 4 goals and Alejandro Moreno 3 for their career v San Jose.
Landon Donovan leads current Earthquakes with 4 goals against the Galaxy. Dwayne DeRosario has 3 goals, 3 assists against L.A., Brian Ching and Jamil Walker have 2 goals each. Richard Mulrooney has 5 assists, 0 goals. Ronald Cerritos is San Jose's all-time leader against the Galaxy with 4 goals, 6 assists.
Coaches record: Steve Sampson vs. SJ: P1 W1 L0 D0 ... Dominic Kinnear v LA: P3 W1 L2 D0
ALL-TIME (33 meetings): Earthquakes 9 wins (1 shootout), 42 goals ... Galaxy 20 wins (4 shootout), 54 goals ... 4 draws
IN SAN JOSE (17 meetings): Earthquakes 6 wins (1 shootout), 21 goals ...Galaxy 8 wins (2 shootout), 22 goals ... 2 draws
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
A late goal put the Wizards back on top of the West and in the race for the MLS Supporters Shield, Diego Gutierrez scoring a remarkable goal seven minutes from time for the match-winner.
He started the play with a pass from well inside his own half, finding Davy Arnaud on the left touchline, who weaved his way forward before sliding a small square pass inside the restraining arc that Gutierrez sidefooted home past Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad and off the inside of his left-hand post.
The Wizards were saved in the first half in a wild sequence that saw Kerry Zavagnin twice clear balls off the line in short order from Troy Dayak, first turning aside his sharp downward header on a corner, then parrying the rebound stabbed goalward.
"Now we are going to see what this team is made of," Quakes defender Jeff Agoos said. "Are we just going to pack it in and have an early vacation or are we going to keep our heads up and get after teams and take the 12 points that we have left?"
Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that lost 2-1 away to the Los Angeles Galaxy the previous Saturday. Ryan Cochrane came into central defense as Jeff Agoos moved to left back, Todd Dunivant returning to the substitutes bench.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel, Ryan Cochrane (Chris Brown 85), Troy Dayak, Jeff Agoos (Todd Dunivant 87) - Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Ian Russell 87), Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales - Landon Donovan, Brian Ching
The San Jose Earthquakes lost for the third consecutive match, the defending MLS champion again falling out of a playoff spot in a 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium. The Quakes have scored just two goals in their last five games are now have 34 points from 26 matches, one behind fourth-place Dallas Burn, though they are still just seven points behind conference-leading Kansas City Wizards.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Eddie Johnson also struck for two goals before the halftime break as the Burn pulled back ahead of the Earthquakes in the West, the Galaxy still with just one win in four games under new coach Steve Sampson.
Johnson took advantage of a dreadful mistake in the 11th minute, stripping Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman of the ball in the penalty area after he failed to deal with a long back pass.
Johnson then doubled his pleasure five minutes before the break, pounding a rebound into an empty goal after Hartman had turned aside a Jason Kreis shot on the turn from inside the area.
Galaxy coach Steve Sampson made no changes to the team that knocked off the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at home the previous Saturday, his first professional victory as a club coach.
Here's Sampson's team (4-4-1-1): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright (Arturo Torres 64), Tyrone Marshall, Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome - Cobi Jones, Marcelo Saragosa (Guillermo Gonzalez 82), Peter Vagenas, Sasha Victorine - Andreas Herzog (Joseph Ngwenya 46) - Alejandro Moreno
"The players have enjoyed the system, they're understanding what we're trying to get across," Sampson said. "For me to make a change at this time I think would be suicidal."
The Galaxy's first-choice strike partnership of Carlos Ruiz and Jovan Kirovski did not recover from injury in time for either to make the trip to Dallas. But Sampson said they will both be available this weekend.
"The question is, 'Is (Ruiz) 90 minutes fit or something less than that?'" Sampson said. "We'll only be able to determine that later on in the week. Jovan should be 100 percent fit."
The Los Angeles Galaxy lost for the second time in three matches, now with just one win in their last nine matches as they went down 2-0 to the Dallas Burn at the Cotton Bowl. The Galaxy are now on 38 points from 26 matches, three ahead of fourth-place Dallas but just one behind second-place Colorado and just three adrift of Western Conference leaders Kansas City Wizards.