Three Takeaways From the First California Clasico of 2021

The Los Angeles Galaxy won 1-0 over their California Clasico rivals San Jose Earthquakes at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. This result reflected the opposite trajectories both clubs are experiencing. While LA Galaxy are back to where they feel they belong flying high, San Jose have that all too familiar feeling of being unable to buy a point. Here are three takeaways from this game as Major League Soccer looks ahead to the International Break

1: Murphy’s Law Reigns in San Jose

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Northern California’s soccer club. Those solid chances that were created? Either wasted or saved. Only 1 goal in the last 4 games, a run that would be worse if not for a miraculous end to their encounter against Real Salt Lake. That should not be the case for an attack that features Chris Wondolowski, Cade Cowell, and Cristian Espinoza (even with Jackson Yueill absent via International Duty). The recent goals that they have conceded have either been bangers or own goals, the latter being the only one in this contest to blemish what was an otherwise solid game from Tanner Beason. It is hard to feel confident about your play when despite all the effort, nothing is going according to plan. These are the trends that often doom the Quakes in their attempts to reach the playoffs or at least force them to go on a run later in the season to salvage playoff participation.

2: Pieces Beginning to Fit for Los Angeles

This is a far cry from the top-heavy rosters featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his extras from a few seasons ago. The Galaxy are getting key contributions from a host of young or otherwise unlikely players. Most importantly, they are getting good performances from positions they’ve often overlooked in their player acquisitions such as goalkeeper. Jonathan Bond had a 12 save performance and while they were mostly standard, he is showing he can be a reliable and calming force for the elder Los Angeles soccer club. In the attacking areas, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández is the star attraction but not the only threat to keep in check. While the Mexican International has 9 goals in 19 appearances for the Galaxy, it was Frenchman Samuel Grandsir who stepped up and knocked down the crucial domino that caused the decisive own goal. Jonathan dos Santos and Sacha Kljestan continue to lead the midfield contingent with prowess and experience.

3: This Rivalry Still Has Its Edge

LAFC hit the ground running in their short MLS lifespan, and that has given rise to El Trafico, the rivalry between the two L.A. clubs. The California Clasico has sometimes been forgotten about, but the new history that unfolds in Major League Soccer doesn’t erase earlier history. Every time these two clubs face each other regardless of form or table position, you can feel the intensity. Even in this 1-0 scoreline, there was no shortage of battles or action. A formidable crowd in PayPal Park will welcome these sides in late June just as the Angelinos made their presence known last night. Three-sided rivalries, or at least one team sharing fierce rivalries with two other clubs, is not uncommon in world football. Look no further than the Premier League’s Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham and you can see some parallels with the fireworks California’s finest clubs can produce.