THE HOME DEPOT CENTER
7 pm PT (KWHY; FSN-BA)
The Los Angeles Galaxy return to the scene of the disaster this weekend, coming back home where they last suffered their heaviest defeat ever at The Home Depot Center. But in between, the Galaxy went to Soldier Field and came away with a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire to re-establish their lead in the Western Conference. They face rival San Jose Earthquakes in the latest installment of the 'California Clasico,' who have lost just once in the last two months but still find themselves fourth in the Western Conference.
REFEREE: Ai Saheli. SAR (bench): Steve Davidson; JAR (opposite): Emiliano Monje; 4th: Ramon Hernandez
MLS Career: 56 games; FC/gm: 32.7; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 9; pens: 14
Games involving Galaxy: P13 W8 L5 T0; FC/gm: 33.8; Y/gm: 4.2; R: 0; pens: 1
Games involving Earthquakes: P12 W6 L5 T1; FC/gm: 34.3; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 5; pens: 5
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Danny Califf (L torn meniscus); MD Peter Vagenas (groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Ricky Lewis (L calf contusion); PROBABLE: MD Cobi Jones (concussion/neck injury); DF Tyrone Marshall (L MCL sprain) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Chris Roner (R ankle surgery); DF Eddie Robinson (L hamstring rupture); DF Troy Dayak (upper back sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Jamil Walker (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: LA: Paul Broome (11 CP in 3 gms)
YELLOW PERIL: LA: Andreas Herzog (17 CP); Carlos Ruiz (7 CP in 2 gms); Marcelo Saragosa (20 CP); Peter Vagenas (10 CP in 2 gms);
This is the second of four meetings between the California rivals, and the first of two at The Home Depot Center. They'll conclude the season series meeting twice in three weeks, Sept. 11 in Carson and Sept. 25 in San Jose.
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.
Here's Dominic Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Wes Hart, Jeff Agoos, Ryan Cochrane, Ramiro Corrales - Brian Mullan, Richard Mulrooney, Ian Russell - Landon Donovan - Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Ching.
Sigi Schmid ran out this team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Ryan Suarez, Hong Myung-Bo, Paul Broome (Ricky Lewis 57) - Marcelo Saragosa, Sasha Victorine - Cobi Jones (Arturo Torres 68), Andreas Herzog (Ned Grabavoy 72) - Joseph Ngwenya, Alejandro Moreno.
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 4 goals, 2 assists, while Sasha Victorine and Alejandro Moreno each have 3 goals for their career v San Jose.
Landon Donovan leads current Earthquakes with 4 goals against the Galaxy. Dwayne DeRosario has 2 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: Sigi Schmid vs. SJ: P17 W8 L5 D4 ... Dominic Kinnear v LA: P1 W1 L0 D0
ALL-TIME (31 meetings): Earthquakes 9 wins (1 shootout), 40 goals ...Galaxy 18 wins (4 shootout), 50 goals ... 4 draws
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Galaxy's defending set the stage for the victory - center back Ryan Suarez clearing two balls off the line in the first half - then a wonder goal from Jovan Kirovski 11 minutes from the end provided the margin of victory.
Fire 'keeper Henry Ring came racing out of his area to clear a long ball, getting it only as far as Kirovski in the center circle, and the U.S. international drove the ball back first-time over the retreating Ring and into the unguarded goal from all of 50 yards.
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid made two changes to the team that lost 3-0 to the MetroStars at The Home Depot Center just four days before. Chris Albright returned to the side at right back, coming in for Ricky Lewis, while Sasha Victorine also returned to the lineup, with Cobi Jones out through concussion.
"It was one of those games where we had to show a lot of character and we had to dig in. We've got a few injuries and have a few guys out and lost a few guys during the game," Schmid said. "But I thought we showed a lot of character. Chicago's a very good team that put a lot of pressure on us. We defended well as a team and held on."
Here's Schmid's team (4-3-1-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Albright, Danny Califf (Hong Myung-Bo 46), Ryan Suarez, Paul Broome - Ned Grabavoy (Carlos Ruiz 70), Marcelo Saragosa (Arturo Torres 65), Sasha Victorine - Andreas Herzog - Alejandro Moreno, Jovan Kirovski.
"We all have to do our part, it's not just one player's mistake," said Suarez. "You've got to do your role and hopefully you're there at the right time at the right place and you make the correct move instead of the wrong one. It's just support and backing up your players; my 'keeper went out and I went behind him."
After losing twice in four days on each coast to the MetroStars, getting a result of any kind was vitally important to the Galaxy. "It was a tough game for us today because coming off of two losses, it was important to get the result," said Kirovski. "The first half we defended quite well and Hartman made a couple great saves and we had some chances as well. Overall, we maybe didn't deserve to win but we deserved at least a point."
On Wednesday, the Galaxy lost defender Dan Califf after he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Califf had earlier missed a number of matches when he suffered an injury to his right knee.
The Los Angeles Galaxy rebounded from a pair of defeats to the MetroStars in a coast-to-coast home-and-home series, returning to the road to claim a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire in a top-of-the-table clash at Soldier Field. The three points put the Galaxy back all alone atop the Western Conference and MLS overall table, with 24 points from 15 points, ahead of the Kansas City Wizards by two in the West.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The Wizards concluded their five-game road swing unbeaten to claim a share of the spoils at Spartan Stadium. A terrific goal from Jose Burciaga Jr. just before the halftime break gave the Wizards the lead, ripping a drive from just inside the area on a pass from Chris Klein that threatened to rip the net off its moorings as it flashed past Pat Onstad.
But the Quakes pulled level 11 minutes from time when Richard Mulrooney hammered a drive from outside the area that sailed past Tony Meola's dive and under the crossbar.
"They don't earn anything," Landon Donovan said. "They're scrappy. It's ugly soccer. You hope a team like that doesn't get anything because they don't deserve it.''
Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that drew 1-1 with the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field the previous Saturday. Jeff Agoos was suspended after being sent off late in that match, and with Landon Donovan back from international duty, he moved into the midfield as Ramiro Corrales moved back into a reconfigured back four.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Wes Hart (Ronnie Ekelund 76), Ryan Cochrane, Craig Waibel, Ramiro Corrales - Brian Mullan, Richard Mulrooney, Ian Russell (Arturo Alvarez 69) - Landon Donovan - Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario
"It was a tale of two halves. The first half, we were a little unsure whether to go in or not go in (on the attack)," Kinnear said. "But that was a great strike by their kid (Burciaga). But in the second half, we came out and played well. I'm not thrilled to have just tied at home, but we at least got a point out of it."
Kinnear made a fundamental tactical change over the final 20 minutes, going with three in the back when he brought Ekelund on and pushing five attackers forward.
"We kept on pressing them in the second half, and we made a couple subs to try and get more attacking players on the field because I don't like losing at home and I don't like tying," Kinnear said. "It was a great strike by Richard, but I am not exactly thrilled about having one point. I think Kansas City is quite happy, but we are still unbeaten at home, and I think we showed again that it is tough to play here. I think that a lot of teams don't like to play here."
Landon Donovan has been nominated for an ESPY Award for Best Male Soccer Player, along with Real Madrid and England winger David Beckman, Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid and France, and striker Thierry Henry (Arsenal and France). Donovan won the award in 2002.
The San Jose Earthquakes left it late, but still maintained their run of recent success though settling for a 1-1 draw at home with the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night. The Earthquakes have now lost just once in their last eight games but are still in third place in the Western Conference with 17 points from 12 games, now seven adrift of the conference-leading Los Angeles Galaxy.