When the San Jose Earthquakes travel to The Home Depot Center this weekend, it will mark the first meeting this season of what historically has been the most heated rivalry in the Western Conference. And like any good rivalry, there are players on both sides that have seen action with both teams.
Alexi Lalas, who won an MLS Cup with the Galaxy in 2002, is now the GM of the Quakes. Alejandro Moreno, who was with the Green and Gold last season, could be making a start this week for San Jose due in part to the number of injuries the Bay Area team has sustained in recent weeks.
In the Los Angeles locker room, Todd Dunivant and Landon Donovan will be suiting up for the first time against their former team. For Donovan, not being in a Quakes jersey is still something he's getting used to.
"You're playing against your old mates, your old coach," said the young defender. "Of course it's something you look out for and mark on the calendar."
Both players are going to need to make a solid contribution this week if the Galaxy is to rebound from last week's crushing loss to Real Salt Lake. Donovan will try and get an offense that's been struggling to finish back on track. Dunivant and the rest of the defense will need to be sharp for the full 90 minutes, something they have failed to do on occasion this year.
Neither player however will need any added incentive to get up for this game. Just seeing Galaxy vs. Earthquakes on the schedule is motivation enough.
"San Jose-L.A. is a pretty heated rivalry. We have a lot of players who have played on both sides now," said Dunivant. "There are a lot of elements to it. It'll be a fun one."
Donovan agreed with his teammate this week in training. "I don't expect it to be dirty or nasty," he said. "It's going to be fun. It won't be the same as when we go up there. It'll be different."
As much as players like to say that they treat every game the same, its no secret that the Golden State's original rivalry means a little more to the players. For Dunivant, who still has several friends with San Jose, the competition got a head start.
"It started early on. Right after Saturday's game. We're definitely jawing back and forth," said a smiling Dunivant.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.