We’ve got more California Clasico futbol on the way. That’s right, this year’s series between Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy and Frank Yallop’s San Jose Earthquakes gets extended by a couple more games with the 2012 MLS Western Conference Semifinals, set for Nov. 4 and Nov. 7. The first leg is set for Sunday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The Galaxy are coming off a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps but will need to convert their chances against the best team in the league and the favorites to take home this year’s MLS Cup in the Quakes. Here are 10 Bold Predictions for thiS MLS Western Conference Semifinal.
1. Here comes Wondo with a brace
This year, San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski impressed a lot of football fans by tying Roy Lassiter’s record 27 goals this season. Red hot at the right time, Wondo will make his presence felt with a couple of goals to his name.
2. Steven Lenhart with at least an assist
One of the most controversial players on the Earthquakes team, Steven Lenhart just finds ways to frustrate opponents and get under their skin. That’s what you want from a playmaker. So, Lenhart will get at least one assist on Sunday against the Galaxy.
3. No goals for Alan Gordon
Alan Gordon has become a bit of a lightning rod for the Earthquakes, earning 13 goals this year for the Quakes. On Sunday, the Galaxy will figure him out and contain the space he generates. For once. No goals from this former Galaxy wingman on Sunday.
4. Mike Magee with at least a goal
One player that knows how to perform against the San Jose Earthquakes is Mike Magee. He is clutch as a goalkeeper and he delivers as a midfielder. His equalizer against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday was vital to the Galaxy’s chances, and on Sunday, he will need to step his game up and deliver. Magee is on fire again with at least one goal on Sunday.
5. An assist from David Beckham at the minimum
It was tough on Thursday for David Beckham, as seen by the 17 unsuccessful crosses into the fray. However, one has to applaud his perseverance to make plays and generate chances. So, on Sunday, Beckham will be able to get at least one assist against the Quakes.
6. Landon Donovan with at least a goal
Another player for Los Angeles that needs to crank it up and has had a history of cranking things up is Landon Donovan, whose 73rd-minute penalty conversion against the Whitecaps got the Galaxy to this point. Whether on the run of play or on a set piece, Donovan will get a goal on Sunday against San Jose.
7. Clutch goalkeeping on both ends
San Jose’s Jon Busch and Los Angeles’s Josh Saunders know how to make stops. And in this first leg of the conference semis, they will make stops. Look for Busch and Saunders to make at least four saves on the night at the Home Depot Center.
8. A penalty will be called
Referees in this league love to stir up controversy. It makes for Wondo-ful water cooler talk (see what I did there?) on Monday morning. On Sunday, a penalty will be called, just like in the knockout round between LA and Vancouver.
9. At least 25 fouls and three yellows
San Jose and Los Angeles hate each other with passion so strong, you can cut it with a knife. So the physical play and harsh fouls will be there. Look for at least 25 fouls called and three yellow cards issued.
10. This match will end in a draw
It will be a hard-fought game with plenty of goals, but this MLS Western Conference Semifinal will not be decided at the Home Depot Center. It will be decided at Buck Shaw Stadium, where some unruly behavior by the road fans have taken place. This first leg will end in a draw.
Los Angeles Galaxy 2, San Jose Earthquakes 2