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The first California Clásico of the new season features a pair of teams licking their wounds from rough weekends - but for different reasons. The Los Angeles Galaxy return home - where they've won all four games this season - yet after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake where they held a halftime lead against the expansion outfit. The San Jose Earthquakes haven't lost in four games, but their scoreless draw against FC Dallas last weekend came at a heavy cost, with two starting defenders lost for the season and two attacking talents out for at least a month.
REFEREE: Kevin Terry. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Jair Marrufo
MLS Career: 103 games; FC/gm: 30.7; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 34; pens: 43
Games involving Galaxy: P26 W10 L13 T3; FC/gm: 29.8; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 10; pens: 12
Games involving Earthquakes: P21 W9 L8 T4 FC/gm: 30.2; Y/gm: 2.6; R: 7; pens: 9
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: FW Alan Gordon (R hip strain) ... SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES - OUT: DF Craig Waibel (R knee torn ACL/LCL); FW Brian Ching (R hamstring strain); MF Brian Mullan (L ankle avulsion fracture); PROBABLE: MF Brad Davis (L hip pointer)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: none
ALL-TIME (34 meetings): Galaxy 20 wins (4 shootout), 54 goals ... Earthquakes 9 wins (1 shootout), 42 goals ... 5 draws
AT LOS ANGELES: (17 meetings): Galaxy 12 wins (2 shootout), 32 goals ... Earthquakes 3 wins (0 shootout), 21 goals ... 2 draws
The long-time bitter Golden State rivals meet in the first of four "California Clasicos" this season, the first of two meetings at The Home Depot Center. Their next two encounters will be at Spartan Stadium, on June 25 and Aug. 27 (both on ESPN2), then they'll meet in the season finale on Victoria Street on Oct. 15.
A year ago, the Galaxy won two of the four meetings - both in Carson - while the Earthquakes won one at home, with the fourth match (in San Jose) ending in a scoreless draw.
The Quakes recorded a victory in a wild 4-2 contest at Spartan Stadium on May 22 (Ching 45, 48; Mullan 54; DeRosario 79 - Herzog 61, Ngwenya 74), before the Galaxy posted back-to-back 2-1 victories at home, the first on July 4 (Ruiz 45, 55 - DeRosario 41), then again on Sept. 11 (Victorine 36, Torres 75 - Ekelund 77). Two weeks later (Sept. 25), the teams then played to the scoreless draw in San Jose.
The visiting team hasn't won in the series in the last two years. The last win by a road team in the matchup came Sept. 21, 2002, when the Galaxy claimed a 1-0 victory at Spartan Stadium.
The Earthquakes haven't won in their last six league trips to Los Angeles. Their last away win against the Galaxy came April 7, 2001; since, the Galaxy have recorded five wins (with one draw) at home in league play against San Jose.
The Quakes have knocked off the Galaxy in their last two postseason series. They won the dramatic 2003 Western Conference semifinal series 5-4 on aggregate - capped by a remarkable 4-2 San Jose second-leg home win - and also won a berth in MLS Cup 2001 on a Dwayne DeRosario golden goal winner. The Galaxy claimed victory in a 1996 playoff series, 2 games to 1.
The Galaxy have been the Quakes bogey team in the U.S. Open Cup, three times (2000, 2001, 2002) eliminating their California rivals, including on penalties in 2001 and in extra time in 2002.
Coaches record: Steve Sampson v SJ: P2 W1 L0 T1 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. LA: P4 W1 L2 D1
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Los Angeles Galaxy saw their four-game winning streak snapped in their first game away from home in more than a month, losing a first-half lead in falling 2-1 to expansion Real Salt Lake at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday night. The Galaxy are still on 12 points from six matches this season, now second in the Western Conference, three points behind leader FC Dallas and a point ahead of Real Salt Lake.
Real Salt Lake won for the second time in club history with an impressive come-from-behind effort - backstopped by goalkeeper Jay Nolly, making his professional debut.
Jovan Kirovski put the Galaxy in front after 39 minutes, tapping home from close range after Chris Albright's cross from the right wasn't dealt with and then helped on by Peter Vagenas - who minutes earlier had a missed on a glorious opportunity in front of an empty goal.
But after the break, Real pulled level when Eddie Pope came driving into the box to poke home a chest-high deflection of a corner kick (49), then in the 65th minute, a perfectly-weighted ball from Clint Mathis from his own end over the Galaxy defense found Jason Kreis, and his lovely side-foot volley on the run chipped Kevin Hartman to put Real in front with his 95th career goal.
Galaxy coach Steve Sampson made no changes to his starting team for the fifth consecutive match. Here's Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright, Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Cobi Jones, Paulo Nagamura (Mubarike Chisoni 78), Peter Vagenas (Ednaldo da Conceicao 69), Guillermo Ramirez, Landon Donovan, Jovan Kirovski.
"It's disappointing," Sampson said. "We played well enough to win by two or three goals. Finish those opportunities and it's a whole different story. Plus, I think it's important to give credit to Nolly. He played very well tonight. He played exceptionally for his debut."
TEAM NEWSThe Galaxy were extremely bothered by a second loss on the road. "We had great chances, but we have to put them away especially when we went up one nil and we had a chance to go up by two several times. There is no excuse in the second half; we gave up two very bad goals, feel asleep, and got them back in the game. We gave them that win," said Jovan Kirovski.
In addition, there was some real concern over the goals the Galaxy allowed. Los Angeles have kept a clean sheet in only one of six matches on the season. "There is no excuse for that loss. There are enough veteran guys on this team that if we are up 1-0 on the road then we should be able to walk out of here 1-0. I can see if they hit a bomb from 30 [yards] there is nothing you can do about that, but we've got to do better in the back giving up soft goals. It has been a theme and it just has to get better," right back Chris Albright said.
The Galaxy have also dominated the last two matches from an offensive standpoint, yet narrowly have three points to show. They outshot Colorado 18-3 two weeks ago, but came away with a win only through two penalties in the final five minutes.
"You can't have games like that (against RSL). They really have two chances and score two goals," said Landon Donovan. "We get so many chances and don't answer." Said Galaxy boss Sampson: "I'd be a lot more concerned if we weren't creating chances. I'm very happy with the way we're playing. It's not just scoring the goals, but how the goals are scored."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
The San Jose Earthquakes extended their unbeaten run to four matches, but at what cost, in an injury-hit scoreless draw with FC Dallas on Saturday evening at Spartan Stadium. The Earthquakes now have 10 points from seven matches, fourth place in the Western Conference, a point behind Real Salt Lake in third and now five points behind West leader FC Dallas.
The Earthquakes and FC Dallas battled to a scoreless draw in a match that was filled with injury substitutions. The home side saw center back Troy Dayak, forward Brian Ching and midfielder Brian Mullan all forced to leave through injury, while FC Dallas had influential midfielder Richard Mulrooney and left back David Wagenfuhr also injured over the course of the match.
Quality chances were few and far between, but FC Dallas goalkeeper Scott Garlick saw more of the two 'keepers, called upon to make a couple of fine saves in short order midway through the second half.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad. "When Troy [Dayak] and Richard Mulrooney go down, I guess that was just a sign of things to come. Then we lose two more guys; it seemed like there was always someone down on the field. It is unfortunate."
With the injury to Craig Waibel during the runup to the FCD match to a knee injury of his own that will put him out for the rest of the 2005 season, Earthquakes coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that had played the previous three matches. Ricardo Clark came in at right back for Waibel.
Here's Kinnear's team (4-3-1-2): Pat Onstad - Ricardo Clark, Troy Dayak (Ryan Cochrane 11), Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett - Brian Mullan (Ian Russell 63), Danny O'Rourke, Brad Davis - Dwayne De Rosario - Brian Ching (Alejandro Moreno 40), Ronald Cerritos
"I didn't see a whole lot of rough tackles,'' said Ryan Cochrane, who replaced Dayak and effectively marked Dallas forwards Eddie Johnson and Carlos Ruiz. "It seemed like a bunch of fluky injuries.''
TEAM NEWSAt midweek, there was more bad news on the injury front. Troy Dayak - who had already announced this season would be his last in MLS - was ruled out for the year with a torn ACL. Ching and Mullan will be out for 4-6 weeks with their injuries, Ching suffering a hamstring strain while Mullan has an avulsion fracture of his left ankle.
"Craig, Brian (Ching) and Brian (Mullan) are major parts of our team and it is unfortunate to have them all go down with injuries," Earthquakes head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "They have all had great starts to the season and we hope they have a good recovery and we look forward to seeing them back on the field."
A lone bright spot in the Earthquakes sickbay could be the return of defender Danny Califf, available again after offseason knee surgery. "I need to get up to game fitness,'' Califf said. "I need to be 90 minutes fit. I'm probably closer to 60.''
While the Earthquakes have lost just once on the season, the feeling around the club is they could be challenged for the conference lead. "We've thrown a lot of points away this year," Onstad said. "We feel like our record could be better. ... But we've been playing pretty well. We never thought it would be easy (this year), but we thought we'd have trouble scoring goals. That hasn't really been a problem."
Earthquakes president and general manager Alexi Lalas played 36 minutes for the club's reserve team in a 3-1 victory against the FC Dallas reserves last Sunday. The 35-year-old Lalas - who last played in MLS less than two years ago - signed himself, head coach Dominic Kinnear and assistant coach John Doyle to weekend contracts to help the injury-hit club. Lalas was the only one to play, coming in as a replacement for Danny Califf with the score tied 1-1.