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What you need to know

USMNT beaten by Japan in friendly

The US men’s national team suffered a 2-0 defeat to Japan at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany on Friday, a match that was the first of two Europe-based friendlies for Gregg Berhalter’s squad before the Qatar 2022 World Cup in November. The Yanks' final tune-up comes Tuesday against Saudi Arabia (2 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN) in Murcia, Spain.

Canada look World Cup-ready in commanding win over Qatar

Canada got the result they needed in one of their final pre-World Cup tune-ups, easily dispatching host nation Qatar 2-0 Friday at the Generali Arena in Vienna, Austria. Cyle Larin and Jonathan David scored for Les Rouges, who close out their September international window on Tuesday against Uruguay (12 pm ET | OneSoccer, FOX Deportes) in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Cali Clasico tonight

San Jose host the LA Galaxy tonight at Stanford Stadium at 10 pm ET on MLS LIVE on ESPN+. The Galaxy really need this one.

MLS mourns the passing of legendary coach Hankinson

The Major League Soccer community is mourning the loss of longtime head coach Tim Hankinson, who passed away on Thursday after a long battle with cancer at the age of 67. A prominent figure in U.S. soccer and beloved by his players and peers, Hankinson’s legendary 40-year career extended to the college and professional levels of the game. He coached in MLS from 1998 to 2004, first with Tampa Bay Mutiny and later with the Colorado Rapids as part of an illustrious coaching career that dates back to the 1970s. He has also coached the Charleston Battery, Raleigh Flyers, San Antonio Scorpions, Indy Eleven and Chattanooga Red Wolves.

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Clearing the notebook on a critical Cali Clasico

Just the one MLS game this weekend. I’ve got a bunch of notes to share about it and I figured I’d share them with you.

  • It starts tonight at 10:08 pm ET.
  • They’re playing the game at Stanford Stadium, which is different than the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium which is most definitely not Samford’s stadium in Birmingham, Alabama, which is actually just called F. Page Seibert Stadium.
  • Stanford Stadium holds a little over 50,000 people.
  • When you Google Stanford Stadium, Google lists the Quakes as the stadium’s team before it lists, uh, Stanford.
  • 50,391 fans showed up for the first Cali Clasico at Stanford Stadium 10 years ago. The whole game ruled and ended with David Beckham nearly fighting the San Jose mascot, Q. I wrote about it earlier this year and talked to Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski about it.
  • Landon Donovan said, “That Quakes team…we just f---ing hated. We just hated them.”
  • Q’s full name is Quakesadus Mascotacus.
  • These teams do not like each other.
  • That first game at Stanford Stadium kicked off a tradition of playing Cali Clasicos at Stanford Stadium that just immediately go off the rails and it’s awesome and they’re never allowed to stop doing it.
  • This game was originally scheduled for this summer, but got postponed. That’s why it’s the only game on a Saturday night during an international break.
  • It also happens to be critical for the Galaxy’s season.
  • The Galaxy are currently seventh in the West. They’re even on points with Real Salt Lake, but have played one less game.
  • The Galaxy have the advantage when it comes to the first tie breaker,
  • The first tie breaker is wins, so two wins out of the final three games would clinch an Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs spot for the Galaxy.
  • The Quakes are eliminated from the playoffs and are in last place in the West.
  • It would, like, make the \whole\ season worth it to hand the Galaxy a loss that might just keep them from missing the playoffs entirely.
  • Shea Salinas has three goals and five assists in six appearances at Stanford Stadium.
  • Seriously, it’s just constant weirdo stuff in this game.
  • Salinas once scored in the 92nd minute to equalize at 2-2 and then Alan Gordon scored the winner for the Quakes literally one minute later. The Quakes did this while playing with 10 men.
  • The attendance record at Stanford Stadium for this game is 50,850, set on June 29, 2019.
  • 30 players have played for both teams.
  • The strikers in this game — Chicharito, Jeremy Ebobisse and Dejan Joveljic — have scored 41 goals this season. I’m going to guess one of them will make a difference in this game.
  • Ebobisse leads that group with 16 goals on the season.
  • He’s the first non-Wondolowski Quake to reach that mark.
  • Joveljic has scored 10 goals this season despite starting just seven games and playing less than 1,000 minutes. That’s almost a goal every 90 minutes and he would lead MLS in that category except he somehow hasn’t played enough minutes. We’re 32 games into the season and it feels totally bizarre the Galaxy still haven’t figured out how to get him onto the field consistently. Honestly, it points to a larger problem with the makeup of the team. They’ve struggled to be flexible tactically with any effectiveness, often at the expense of leaving Joveljic out of the team in favor of playing far less productive players like Kevin Cabral and Douglas Costa. Meanwhile, the midfield still has work to do because Victor Vazquez, 35 years old and not exactly fleet of foot, remains a focal point in their setup. That’s not entirely fair to Vazquez though, especially considering the Galaxy are still integrating two relatively new midfielders in Gaston Brugman and Riqui Puig, who arrived late in the season at the expense of one of the Galaxy’s most effective players, Rayon Raveloson. It all seems haphazard and not conducive to reaching the kind of heights we expected from this team in their second year under Greg Vanney but then again this is a club that’s been underperforming for the better part of a decade now.
  • Seriously, Quakesadus Mascotacus! How great is that?
  • The Quakes would really, really, really love to make the Galaxy as uncomfortable as possible heading down the stretch. It’s a consolation prize, but it’s still a prize. They’ll need Ebobisse, Salinas and their generally scatterbrained defense to be at their best tonight. Or at least willing to steer into the skid if things go sideways.
  • Things \always\ go sideways when the Cali Clasico comes to Stanford Stadium.
  • You don’t want to miss this one.
And other things

USMNT captain Pulisic misses World Cup prep friendly vs. Japan

The US men’s national team were without star forward Christian Pulisic for Friday’s friendly against Asian powerhouse side Japan, their first of two remaining matches before the Qatar 2022 World Cup begins in November. But head coach Gregg Berhalter doesn’t expect Pulisic to be out long-term, sounding optimistic he’ll return for Tuesday’s final tune-up in Murcia, Spain against Saudi Arabia, another World Cup qualifier from Asia.

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Good luck out there. Carve a path worth following.