LOS ANGELES – From the LA Galaxy’s epic playoff comeback in 2012, to Alan Gordon’s match-winner for the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium, Landon Donovan saw first-hand several of the greatest moments in the California Clasico. (You can vote for your own favorite moment in the match-up here.)
The match-up between the LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes returns this Sun., Aug. 27 to the StubHub Center (FS1 and Fox Deportes in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada). And in advance of that, the LegenD sat down with reporters on Wednesday in downtown L.A. to get a little in-depth about the Clasico.
For Donovan, the rivalry lives first and foremost in the hearts of the fans in L.A. and San Jose.
“There’s hatred between the fans; I can promise you that," he said. "I think what’s happened over the last five or so years, is that the stalwart Galaxy players [from some of the classic moments of the rivalry] are now gone. And quite a few of the Quakes players, too, who were part of this for a long time.
“If you think about players on either side who really get it, [Chris Wondolowski] clearly, Gyasi [Zardes] probably has a good idea. Outside of that, it’s hard to imagine who really feels it in that way. But the fans will. And especially now with the way social media is, the players will feel it because of the pressure from the fans.”
The modern era of the rivalry has had its share of wacky moments, such as Mike Magee having to play goalkeeper for the Galaxy in 2011 -- and keeping a clean sheet -- and David Beckham getting into an argument with Quakes mascot Q in 2012.
And though some, Donovan included, see those games in 2011 to 2014 as a golden California Clasico era, he also believes it’s something that can be passed down to the new generation of players.
“When I was at Everton,” he said, “and we played Liverpool away, I remember ... that whole week you could see it in the demeanor of the players, because they understood very clearly that if they didn’t show up for this game, they were going to get crushed by their own fans.
“I remember all week Tim Howard [then of Everton, now of the Colorado Rapids] saying, 'Guy,s it’s Liverpool week.' That’s why it’s important in these rivalries to have guys who understand. I can promise you Chris Wondolowski this week is saying, 'Guys, this is a different game. You’ve probably all played in some sort of rivalry, this is a special game and we have to be sure we’re ready for it.'"