SAN JOSE, Calif. — Less than two weeks removed from convincingly defeating archrivals LA Galaxy in front of a crowd of over 50,000 — in what is arguably the biggest game of the regular season — the San Jose Earthquakes are gearing up for part two of the California Clasico (Friday, 11 pm ET | UniMás, Twitter; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).
The comprehensive 3-0 victory on June 29 is regarded by many Quakes fans as the highlight of the first half of the season, as it propelled the team above the playoff line in the Western Conference, made an explicit statement of intent, and gave San Jose the upper hand on their disliked rivals.
For Galaxy coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto though, it was a highlight, but for the opposite reason. It was a loss in which the final score was deceiving, he said. In fact, to him, the Quakes may not have really been better at all on the night.
“I think it just adds to the rivalry,” Quakes defender Tommy Thompson said midweek about Schelotto's comments made following the game. “That’s what I love about sport — there’s always a scoreboard. After the game, it said 3-0.
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“So, they can say whatever they want to say, we can say whatever we want to say, but at the end of the day, the score was what it was,” he added. “I’m really happy about how we played, how we went about that game and I’m excited for another battle on Friday.”
Surely, the scenario will look vastly different in Los Angeles, with both teams likely to be stronger. San Jose will have Harold Cummings and Nick Lima, while the Galaxy will count on Jonathan dos Santos and Uriel Antuna, all four players recently returning after Gold Cup duty.
Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda, who’s been longtime friends with Schelotto and his twin brother and Galaxy assistant coach Gustavo, is aware that the rivalry, especially against such a star-studded team like the Galaxy, will pose obstacles, regardless if previous results went their way.
"It was an even match,” Almeyda said of the previous California Clasico clash, disregarding the notion that either side deceived in their performance. “We were able to make a difference by scoring goals, but I didn't stop to think which team was better or worse. I won't think about that either in the match we have coming up. It's just another game. For many people, it's considered a Clasico. It is a Clasico.”
“We'll go over as the visiting team and we'll try to play a good game by respecting the opponent,” he added. “I've known Guillermo [Barros Schelotto] and Gustavo [Barros Schelotto] my whole life. I have great appreciation for them. They are great coaches and people. They have an excellent group of players, so it will be another difficult match for us."
With a spot within the top seven and momentum on their side, San Jose recognize that even if it’s a Clasico, distractions at this point of the season are better kept at bay.
“We are only focused on our work,” winger Cristian Espinoza said. “The only thing we really care about is training well day in and day out, that things go well for us everyday. Outside of that, the other teams, players and coaches can say whatever they want to say about us. We are focused on our work and nothing else.”