Galaxy look for revival against rival
CARSON, Calif. - The first of the four league games this season between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes will be played this Saturday at The Home Depot Center, and on paper the hosts would look to be the heavy favorite, facing an injury-depleted side at home where they haven't dropped a point this season.
But games aren't played on paper, and that's exactly the mentality that the Galaxy is taking into this weekend's clash between the arch-rival California clubs.
Chris Albright knows that regardless of who is or isn't in the starting lineup for the Quakes, he and his mates are in for a battle.
"They're a tough team. They're hard working and well coached. They have a lot of young talent," said the Galaxy defender. "They're missing some key pieces, but we have to be well aware that they can still beat us."
The two players most noticeably missing from the Quakes roster will be forward Brian Ching and defender Troy Dayak. A couple former Galaxy players could replace both veterans in the lineup as Alejandro Moreno and Chris Aloisi might get the call from Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear, adding yet another element to this already heated rivalry.
There are a couple former Quakes in the Galaxy locker room as well, including Landon Donovan, who helped to lead San Jose to two MLS Cups in his time up north.
Los Angeles is hoping to get back on the winning track against their Golden State rivals. The Galaxy are entering the contest coming off of a road loss to Real Salt Lake, which coach Steve Sampson thinks will only add more incentive for his side.
"I think a loss against Salt Lake will sharpen us," said Sampson. "I don't think they'll be any shortage of motivation going into San Jose."
Winning streaks, losing streaks, and overall records really don't matter in rivalry games, and both teams undoubtedly will come out on all cylinders from the opening whistle. Galaxy Captain Pete Vagenas is now in his sixth year with the Galaxy and is all too familiar with what to expect out of San Jose.
"Records go out the window," Vagenas said. "I fully expect San Jose to come in here and play their best game of the season."
As well, the Galaxy aren't fooled by the seeming lack of starpower in the San Jose lineup. It's the tradition of excellence that both teams share that make Vagenas and the rest of the Galaxy wary of any lineup that San Jose presents.
"Historically, yes (this is the biggest rivalry). The last couple of years these two teams have been fighting for MLS championships and Western Conference supremacy," said Vagenas. "In the past, we've had some epic battles."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.