Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez played the leading role in the circus that is the Cali Clasico, doubling as the magician and the clown in the LA Galaxy’s critical 3-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium Saturday night.
Mexico’s all-time leading scorer noticed the tifo unfurled before the game that read “The LA circus — same clowns, different costumes,” with a picture of a pair of clowns below the message.
The message was received by Chicharito.
“You know, sometimes people think that those kinds of stuff is going to put our confidence in ourselves down and they do completely the opposite. They motivate us, they motivate me at least you know,” he said after the match. “So, thank you. Thank you for the people to put that because that brought something else from me, because now I had more desire to win and to get the three points.”
Chicharito struck for a brace, including the opening salvo in the 12th minute, which he followed with an animated celebration in response to said tifo.
“Unbelievable and amazing,” said Chicharito, who added what proved to be the winner in the 69th minute. "The best way to respond to a tifo like that is scoring two goals and celebrating like a clown.”
Hot at the right time
The brace brings Chicharito’s season goal total to 17, fifth in the Golden Boot presented by Audi race. He has three goals in his last two games — both wins — as the Galaxy head into the final two games of the regular season.
“You want your striker to be hot at this time of year, that's for sure,” Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said. “So he's finding good spots, finding them with the ball. He's putting them in the back of the net, that breeds a lot of confidence for him and for the group, so that's always positive.”
Gaston Brugman also scored for the Galaxy, his third goal in his last two games, an added bonus to what the 29-year-old Uruguayan has brought to the LA midfield since his arrival from Italian Serie B side Parma Calcio 1913.
“I told you a few weeks ago, he keeps telling me he is a goal scorer. So he keeps showing me that he can do that,” Vanney said. “But as long as he'll play the No. 6 position the way he's doing it, I’ll allow him those opportunities to get goals. I think he's just playing so mature for our group, which has just brought a lot of like stability in our midfield as well as on that defensive side.”
WATCH: Chicharito clowns Earthquakes, responds to tifo with brace
More than just a rivalry win
The match was the game in hand the Galaxy had on many of the teams that surrounded them in the chase for an Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs berth, bringing even more value to a rivalry win.
The Galaxy, after a second consecutive win, have moved up to fifth place in the Western Conference standings on 46 points. LA are three points clear of eighth-place Real Salt Lake ahead of their massive Week 33 fixture on Oct. 1 (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+) at Dignity Health Sports Park. And the surging Galaxy, who are 4W-1L-4D in their last nine matches, are only one point behind fourth-place Nashville SC.
“It’s huge because it does two things for us. … It continues to build the momentum and confidence that you want down the stretch when you're going into, now, the two most important games in a season, which is to close things out,” Vanney said. "And it puts us in a position where you never know, we could fight for a home game in the playoffs. You've just got to keep building momentum and keep working on our performances.”