Palo Alto, CA – The San Jose Earthquakes are set to host the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at Stanford Stadium in the latest installment of the California Clasico.
The two sides have met once already this season with the Earthquakes storming back from behind in a 3-2 win at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy held a two- goal lead with just 14 minutes remaining, but the visiting 'Quakes scored thrice down the stretch to steal all three points.
But with Los Angeles in the midst of a three-game winning streak, Saturday's result may turn out to be a polar opposite from their first meeting.
The Galaxy have earned consecutive wins over the Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC by combined score of 7-2, keeping two clean sheets over that stretch.
After a slow start that at one point saw the Galaxy fall to the bottom of the Western Conference, head coach Bruce Arena believes that L.A. has turned a corner.
"I think we are slowly becoming a good team. And, I think that inside our locker room we understand what it takes to become a good team," said Arena. "It was an important week for us. We are back in playoff contention. And, there are going to be a lot of difficult games ahead. ... Hopefully, our guys have learned a lot in the first 16 games. We've learned enough to get us through the next 18."
Robbie Keane is back after a tour with the Irish national team for Euro 2012, and he marked his return to Major League Soccer with a goal against Vancouver.
"We know that the start of the season wasn't good enough," Keane said. "For whatever reason, we're back on a winning track now. When you have the winning mentality, the confidence breeds through the whole dressing room so the mentality and the attitude change is from everyone."
The 'Quakes are the ones in a position of power though, leading all of MLS on 33 points this season.
San Jose has made a habit of scoring late in games this term, leading the league with 11 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches.
At the heart of those late surges has been Alan Gordon, who has recorded five goals on the season, all as a substitute. Dating back to last season, all six of his goals with the club have come inside the final 20 minutes.
"Legend. I've never been a part of this where someone comes off the bench, scores so many late goals, and is such an influence out there," Chris Wondolowski said of Gordon. "Another goal and assist, even if he doesn't get the goal, he just has such a presence out there that just makes it fun to be a part of."