LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquake: Cali Clasico preview

Thearon W. Henderson

The LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes kick off the California Clasico series on Sunday. Chris Wondolowski has been out of sorts, while Landon Donovan tries to get in Gold Cup form.

The LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes are on opposite ends of the table at this point in the year, but they're both looking to find their playoff form. The Quakes are using an interim head coach, but their slump continues with a 1-0 loss to DC United last week. While LA got a victory over Chivas USA last week, the team still isn't in the form they need to be as the second half of the season looms. We'll take a look at the Who Scored? statistical preview to get a feel for what to expect tomorrow.

For LA, this is the last match the Galaxy will have Landon Donovan for before he leaves for Gold Cup duty. Gyasi Zardes should also keep his place in the starting lineup after scoring the match winner last Sunday. It'll be interesting to see if Bruce Arena keeps Zardes up top, hopefully with a bit more self control, or if he's moved back into a flank position.

The San Jose Earthquakes are also going to have a Gold Cup shakeup, losing Chris Wondolowski. Last year's golden boot winner is expected to play through injury against LA, battling a right foot contusion. Wondolowski leads the Quakes with five goals but hasn't scored since May 8th. A right foot contusion isn't going to help him get his shooting boots on.

San Jose do have some injury concerns outside of Wondo. Steven Beitashour, Rafael Baca, and Victor Bernardez are all doubtful for Saturday's matchup(ed: Talked to Robert Jonas of Quake, Rattle, and Roll who says all three should be available and in the starting lineup tomorrow). This on a team that just reached out and brought in Clarence Goodson (who won't join the club until after the Gold Cup) says San Jose are going to have issues on the back line.

In the last two matches against teams with shaky back lines, the match forecast has predicted LA scoring on a fast break situation. However, what's actually happened is LA keeping possession in the attacking third failing to convert chances. The match forecast also suggests San Jose will dominate in the air and stray offside often.

With no goals from counters this year for San Jose, a low goal conversion rate (6%), and a tendency to stray offside I expect LA to play the high line against the Quakes. If LA can get the early goal then we'll see them play back and counter, but otherwise I expect Saturday to look similar to the Chivas USA and Portland Timbers matches.

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