This is MLS

Cali Clásico: LA Galaxy an early-season favorite over San Jose Earthquakes?

The LA Galaxy had arguably the best performance of MLS is Back by giving Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF their first real scare of the 2024 season.

But was Sunday's impressive 1-1 draw at Dignity Health Sports Park enough to put LA back into the conversation among elite MLS clubs?

Not so fast, said the "This is MLS" crew, as they previewed Saturday's Cali Clásico between LA and the San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

"The reason why we're asking the question is they've missed the playoffs five out of the last seven years," Taylor Twellman noted, to an affirmative "thank you" from Jillian Sakovits. "Right? And so your expectations are different now."

However, Twellman believes the Galaxy – with general manager Will Kuntz in his role since December – are close to reaching the heights of dynasties past that made the five-time MLS Cup champions the league standard.

"Everyone has to remember: they've always spent money," Twellman said. "This time, it feels like they spent money the right way."

Specifically, the Galaxy shelled out reportedly nearly $20 million to acquire the Designated Player duo of Gabriel Pec and Joseph Paintsil. Both wingers left strong first impressions against the Herons.

"I was really impressed by this team, the way they were compact, the way they were able to get out," said Calen Carr, noting Paintsil's 86-minute debut in particular. "And this guy right here, Paintsil, made a huge impact instantly coming in."

The Ghanaian international was electric on the wings, creating constant havoc for Miami's defense while allowing DP No. 10 Riqui Puig to produce a Team of the Matchday-worthy performance.

"It was easy to go against the Galaxy last year. Teams condensed the midfield, surrounded and stormed Riqui Puig, and got out on the break," Carr continued. "Now they have the weapons with Painstil and Pec."

Still, Twellman wants to see an improved Galaxy performance at PayPal Park, where the Quakes will look to rebound from their 2-1, season-opening loss at FC Dallas.

"I think San Jose is going to give them a little bit of a different headache than Inter Miami did, because they can play a little bit more vertical," Twellman said.

"... San Jose has more mobility up front, they have more dynamism, they'll pose a little bit of an issue for the center back of the LA Galaxy."