The LA Galaxy appear to have finally turned the corner on what had been a dreadful 2012 season.
And if you ask the San Jose Earthquakes, they wouldn’t want to face the champs at any other point.
Sure, the Galaxy might be coming to Stanford Stadium on Saturday (10 pm ET; ESPN2; LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com) having won their past three matches, but that seems to just play into the Quakes’ hands.
So far this season, San Jose have smashed Vancouver’s league-record scoreless streak to open a season (426 minutes) en route to a 3-1 comeback victory April 7. They did away with D.C. United’s seven-game unbeaten run in a wild, wide-open 5-3 win on May 2.
Key Match-Up: LA's attacking trio vs. SJ's wily defense
And, perhaps most pertinently, the Quakes tore up the Galaxy’s four-game unbeaten streak against San Jose at The Home Depot Center with three goals in the final 15 minutes of a 3-2 comeback victory on May 23.
“I think we’re the streak-stoppers,” defender Steve Beitashour said this week. “We tend to ruin people’s streaks this year. They’ve got a three-gamer and we’re going to try to end it.”
It doesn’t hurt the Quakes’ confidence that they’re working on a streak of their own. Notwithstanding their US Open Cup quarterfinal loss to the Seattle Sounders, San Jose have won two straight league matches since coming back from a nearly four-week-long break – which came at a great time for the Quakes.
Midfielder Shea Salinas and defender Víctor Bernárdez both returned from April injuries, and players such as Beitashour and Justin Morrow, who were ridden hard as coach Frank Yallop dealt with early absences along the backline, were able to grab some downtime to recharge.
The rested and refreshed Quakes promptly went to Colorado and Real Salt Lake in the space of five days and blitzed both hosts with victories clinched in the closing minutes. San Jose (10-3-3) now lead RSL by a point, with a match in hand, in the Supporters’ Shield race.
“You always want to test yourselves against the champions,” Yallop said of the Galaxy. “It’s a good time to meet them. We want to try to get a bit of a gap at the top, if you like.”
San Jose have history on their side. Since 2003, the Galaxy are 1-7-4 in their regular-season trips to Northern California, with the only win coming June 14, 2008. That was in the midst of the Quakes’ expansion season after being re-established as an MLS franchise.
Nevertheless, those past results won’t keep Yallop from fretting about taking LA too lightly.
“The Galaxy are hot,” Yallop said. “They’re going to come here and expect to win, so we better be ready, because if we’re not, we’re going to be beat.”
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.