The LA Galaxy need to start racking up points in a hurry to get back into the Western Conference playoff mix, and they'll take any spark they can get to do so.
In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the hope is that the return of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez can be just that. The Mexico international and the club's marquee offseason signing missed LA's last match — a 6-3 defeat to the Portland Timbers — due to the birth of his child, and has yet to get on the type of goal-scoring binge he's shown he's capable of so far in MLS.
As the club looks ahead to Wednesday's road matchup against the San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info), Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said Hernandez will feature in the contest as the club looks to get back on track, with the knowledge that another defeat could deal a crucial blow to their postseason aspirations.
"Obviously we'll be much better because we have him," Schelotto said. "We have to expect he'll score goals and he'll play as he can because he's a wonderful player. We have him ready to play tomorrow, he will play. We need him and we need the other [players] too. It's not just about if he scores, no. I need the team to work very well, and obviously him scoring, because he's in that position. But the team has to help everyone to get their best version.
"We need to improve the next game against San Jose," he added. "It's a big game for us because it's important for our future talking about playoffs. We've got two games less than them, we've got a five-point difference. If we beat them we'll be very close to the position we'll be looking for ... It's very important to win the game. We were talking with the players how important and the impact if we win tomorrow. We need to be ready to run because Almyeda's teams always run and work very hard. When we get a goal, we need to defend to win the game, because it's not just about running."
Wednesday's match pits the Galaxy against a Quakes side that is also coming off a defeat to the Timbers, but had looked resurgent in winning three straight leading up to that match after suffering a series of lopsided results following the league's restart.
The last time the teams played, San Jose prevailed 2-1 at Earthquakes Stadium — a game in which midfielder Sebastian Lletget said his team didn't do a good enough job of matching the intensity that comes with the Quakes' free-wheeling and physical man-marking system. Making sure they do so on Wednesday is one of the main priorities, Lletget said, as the Galaxy try to work their way back into the postseason mix during the stretch run.
"When you're on a losing streak you tend to lose sight of what could you change moving forward," Lletget said. "This is our current situation, the season's not over. There's a lot of soccer to be played.
"When you play teams like that, as much as you want to play pretty, more than anything you have to match their intensity. That's something we've spoken about and at times we did, maybe at home we did very well. But the last two times away we felt they had more of an edge on us in that sense. I think that's something we can definitely get better [on Wednesday]. Once we do that, I think our skill level and our ability will take over. That's how I feel."