2012 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Galaxy

MLS Preview: LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes

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  • It’s the original “California Clasico”
  • Three regular season meetings between the teams last year produced a total of 16 goals
  • San Jose has moved this one out of tiny Buck Shaw Stadium, into the far larger Stanford Stadium

Back before Major League Soccer marketing mavens helped gin up the city of Los Angeles” SuperClasico” – these meetings lately between the two StubHub Center tenant have really been un-Super and un-Clasico, but never mind that for now – we had the original “California Clasico.”

That was San Jose against the LA Galaxy, a Coastal Highway series that did live up to billing, generating its share of memories through the years.

Ask MLS histories about the best playoff game in league history and one remarkable 2003 Galaxy-San Jose contest will surely be in the conversation, as the Northern Cali side hit for five unanswered goals to claim the post-season series dramatically on aggregate, 5-4.

Plenty of Earthquakes fans have never forgotten how Landon Donovan, having returned for another short spell in Europe, requested to return to MLS in a Galaxy uniform rather than suiting up once again for San Jose.

Remember David Beckham kicking a ball at an injured player, and at the referee standing alongside? That was Earthquakes-Galaxy stuff.

And later last year, who could forget Omar Gonzalez’s popping the top on a public can of bitter frustration over the Earthquakes’ gamesmanship and on-field antics?

So, that’s all in the background as the teams meet tonight at Stanford Stadium,

Talking points in this one, set for a 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff, include:

  • While the Galaxy remain in the thick of things in the West, now complete again upon the return from international duty of Gonzalez and Robbie Keane, the Earthquakes are two games into a coaching change and still near the bottom of the conference.
  • If Donovan wants to prove he belongs back with the national team and deserves that Gold Cup call-up, why not start proving so right now, in a showcase MLS contest? (This will be his last league date for three or four weeks.) We’ve seen the old Donovan so far in bursts; those 3 goals and 4 assists in 12 MLS contests aren’t awful. But these burst have been relatively few and far between, especially by this guy’s former standards. So, clearly, it’s time to find another gear.
  • Speaking of finding another gear, reigning Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski had 27 goals last year, matching an MLS single-season mark. This year, he’s on pace for about 10. Clearly, that’s not where the proud striker wants to be after San Jose doubled his guaranteed salary in the offseason to $600,000.
  • Wondolowski has a contusion on his right foot but is expected to play.
  • Yes, the Earthquakes just signed U.S. international Clarence Goodson, and he will surely make a formidable pairing alongside Victor Bernardez. But Goodson will not become available to the ‘Quakes until August. Until then, Jason Hernandez or Nana Attakora will pair regularly with the Honduran international Bernardez.

(MORE: Goodson-Bernardez now among top MLS center back combos)

  • Last year at this time, San Jose right back Steven Beitashour and left back Justin Morrow were burgeoning stars, about to become MLS All-Stars and squarely in Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar for national team call-ups. Injuries and overall team form have had a say as they have faded into the background of these conversations in 2013.
  • Earthquakes interim manager Mark Watson has a win and a loss so far; this is his first home match (even if it’s not exactly inside San Jose usual home).
  • Los Angeles was without a win in three matches before last week’s 1-0 victory over Chivas USA.
  • Keane missed practice Thursday due to neck spasms but told reporters on Friday he expected to travel and play.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga