WHEN: San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles Galaxy, 9:00PM EST, 6:00PM PST
STADIUM: Hope Depot Center (Natural grass, 27,000 capacity) Opened June 1, 2003
2012 SERIES: San Jose leads 2-0-1
RADIO: 570 AM (KLAC) / 1150 AM (KTLK) in Los Angeles — 1590 AM (KLIV) / 1370 AM (KZSF) in San Jose
TELEVISION: ESPN (Ian Darke play-by-play, Taylor Twellman color analyst), TSN, as well as ESPN Deportes in Spanish
COACHES: Frank Yallop – San Jose (11th season), Bruce Arena – Los Angeles (5th season)
The MLS playoffs kick into high gear on Sunday evening, as the best team from the regular season will face the defending MLS Cup champions in what should be one of the best playoff series that American soccer has ever seen.
There will be no shortage of stars on the pitch as the Los Angeles Galaxy, packed with the league’s version of an all-star cast, host the Supporter’s Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes and their scoring machine Chris Wondolowski.
Simply “Wondo” as he’s affectionately become known, Wondolowski has come out of nowhere to capture not only MLS audiences, but fans across the globe as he dominated the forward position in the American league, leading the way with 27 goals on the season.
But Landon Donovan and company aren’t going to be throwing a welcome party for the ‘Quakes, as the defending MLS Cup Champions are bent on repeating their 2011 success after a thrilling come-from-behind win in an elimination game against the Vancouver Whitecaps put them in position to host their second consecutive game of the playoffs.
The two teams matched up against one another three times on the season, and although the Galaxy couldn’t find a victory in any of these contests, their final game on October 21 yielded a 2-2 tie at Buck Shaw Stadium in San Jose.
San Jose is riding a nine game unbeaten streak, one that striker Alan Gordon is confident they can build on. ”Have we been playing our best soccer lately,” Gordon asked in analyzing the team. ”I wouldn’t say that, but we haven’t been losing. We’re not on a bad streak. I think we’re all ready to amp up. Momentum’s still in our favor.”
Despite the ‘Quakes success, and with the tough contests Donovan has seen his team play against San Jose, his confidence is sky high as well.
“It’s a team we played really well this year actually,” Donovan said. ”We were up two goals in the first two games and ended up losing; we’re up a goal twice in the third game and ended up tying. That was a little bit the story of their season and if we can play them well again and learn from those lessons and use our experience then we feel we have a chance in this series.”
This will be the fifth meeting between the two squads in MLS playoff history. The 2003 series between the teams is widely regarded as the best playoff series in league history. But with all that is on the line in 2012, 2003 could end up taking a back seat.