The Galaxy and Earthquakes cranked up the intensity on Sunday night, turning a midseason match into a brawl at the sold-out Home Depot Center.
Besides a slew of whistles, eight yellow cards and one red card, trash talk served as a precursor to the Fourth of July fireworks that dazzled fans after the match.
Center to the slew of words was San Jose star Landon Donovan and Galaxy veteran Cobi Jones. The two played together on the U.S. national team in the 2002 World Cup but on Sunday, it appeared that fact did not matter.
"Landon tries to take free whacks," Jones said, "and I needed to tell him where I stand with that.
"It's a big rivalry and they hate us more than anything else."
Donovan didn't deny the venom San Jose carries for the Galaxy, who won, 2-1.
"You just grow not to like them," Donovan said. "It's not like Cobi and I have a little rivalry. He just talks a lot. Fair enough. I like to talk too."
But Donovan did take offense to a play late in the game that sent him tumbling to the turf. CLos Angeles' Carlos Ruiz fell hard after a slide tackle by Brian Mullan, which drew him a red card. While Ruiz was writhing in pain, Donovan approached him and bent over to touch Ruiz. The Guatemalan national pushed Donovan away and knocked him over.
"Ruiz hit me but nobody saw it," Donovan said. "Nobody saw it and I didn't expect anyone to."
Jones defended Ruiz on the play, questioning why Donovan was near Ruiz at all.
"Landon was grabbing him," Jones said. "When a player goes down, the other team's players shouldn't be there next to him. Any player down has the right to get (someone) off his back."
There is no doubt the two teams take the rivalry seriously but even Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman could admit which side hated the other more.
"It's frustrating because we put in a decent effort and yet its still difficult to match their ambition when we play this game," Hartman said. "Lately, its been whoever is at home wins this game. So its important to go up there and take some points from them the next match."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.