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.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 7 — Spain, Portugal aim for wins

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Spain and Portugal got through the toughest match on their Group B dockets, against each other, but now need to stack some W’s.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s EURO champs open Wednesday’s World Cup action with a match against Morocco, and manager Fernando Hierro leads Spain against Iran to close out the day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

In the middle, Uruguay looks to suck the drama out of Group A by joining Russia as 2-0 sides.

Below is Wednesday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group A
Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia: Rostov, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group B
Portugal vs. Morocco: Moscow, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Iran vs. Spain: Kazan, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Fortunes up or down? 32 thoughts after first 17 World Cup games

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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All it took was one round of games for some favorites to be doubted, others to verify their status, and some underdogs to earn dark horse status.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

While there are valid reasons to make early judgments, it’s important to note that some perceived setbacks don’t change much while others put a serious crimp in tournament hopes.

Group A

Russia (2 games played) — Fortunes way up — Two resounding wins combined with early tumult in Group B could help Russia consider a quarterfinal spot.

Uruguay — Fortunes level — Jose Gimenez’s 89th minute winner may allow the CONMEBOL side to render its group finale moot by hammering Saudi Arabia.

Egypt (2 games played) — Fortunes way down — Could be out of the tournament should Uruguay get a point against lowly Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia — Fortunes down — Unsure anyone figured the Green Falcons as anything other than an obstacle, but their performance against host Russia was miserable.

Group B

Iran — Fortunes up — Carlos Queiroz would’ve circled the Morocco opener as a must-win. Mission accomplished, however it was done.

Portugal — Fortunes level — Needed a PK, goalie error, and wonder free kick to get a point from Spain. Still, got the point.

Spain — Fortunes down — Still look capable of imposing themselves on the tournament, but too many errors in their first outing.

Morocco — Fortunes down — Probably should’ve had a point against Iran, but would’ve wanted three anyway. Very disappointing and now a mountain ahead.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – JUNE 15: Karim Ansarifard of Iran is challenged by Noureddine Amrabat of Morocco (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Group C

France — Fortunes level — Clearly the better side against Australia, didn’t inspire title confidence but could’ve easily nabbed a three- or four-goal win.

Denmark — Fortunes up — Despite being the second-best side against Peru, now can expect the knockout rounds by beating the Socceroos.

Australia — Fortunes down — France first was always going to be a struggle, but to fight so valiantly and fall to an own goal will be a mental hurdle ahead of Peru.

Peru — Fortunes down — Terrific energy and performance would’ve led to a win with any finishing luck, but getting a result from Denmark was very important. A loss presents a major challenge.

Group D

Croatia — Fortunes up — Its tactical options for the second match against Argentina are wide open after securing three points against Nigeria.

Argentina — Fortunes down — Forget control of the game and Lionel Messi’s 11 shots on target; Not getting full points against Iceland is a significant setback. A group stage without Messi is possible.

Iceland — Fortunes up — It remains hard to picture Iceland getting out of the group, but the UEFA side has now flummoxed Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in successive tournaments. Can they find a win against Nigeria to set up a wild final day?

Nigeria — Fortunes down — Group D was always going to be tough, but a 2-0 loss to Croatia means the margin of error is almost zero.

Group E

Serbia — Fortunes up — Forget how Serbia won, their fortunes have leapt due to Brazil drawing Switzerland.

Brazil — Fortunes down — Drawing their second-trickiest game could see Neymar and Co. in position to finish second in the group instead of first. The only silver lining is that Germany may also fail to claim its group and make runner-up a good thing for the Round of 16.

Switzerland — Fortunes up — Maybe Swiss supporters were expecting it, but a result against Brazil is a positive step for a team that took Argentina to extra time at the 2014 tournament but underwhelmed at EURO 2016.

Costa Rica — Fortunes down — Now needs to beat Brazil to have much hope of anything going into the final group match vs. Switzerland.

Group F

Sweden  — Fortunes level — Beating South Korea was nice and we understand the chemistry argument, but a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic would’ve feasted on the spoils offered in the opener.

Mexico  — Fortunes way up — El Tri is a very good tournament team, but if you had them beating Germany 1-0 in the opener you’re a better prognosticator than me.

Germany  — Fortunes down — Still favored to come out of the group and deep enough to repeat as champions, being unable to get a result from Mexico will only raise more questions about leaving Leroy Sane home (fair or not).

South Korea — Fortunes down — Would’ve wanted no less than four points from the Sweden and Mexico encounters, and has zero heading into the second against El Tri.

NIZHNIY NOVGOROD, RUSSIA – JUNE 18: Andreas Granqvist of Sweden. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Group G

Belgium  — Fortunes up — Delivered expected dominance against Panama and could have a spot in the knockout rounds sewn up by the end of Day Two versus Tunisia.

England  — Fortunes up — There will not be Wayne Rooney questions about this tournament’s captain, as Harry Kane scored twice on a day he perhaps wasn’t at his best. Will clinch a berth in the knockout rounds by beating Panama next, you’d have to think.

Tunisia  — Fortunes slightly down — Needed to surprise England or Belgium to get out of the group, and still has a second opportunity after losing late to the Three Lions.

Panama  — Fortunes slightly down — Not sure anyone was expecting a Cinderella story, but even those will feel it more unlikely after a big loss to Belgium.

Group H

Japan  — Fortunes up — Not a bad team at all, but prospects were dim given the talent of the group. After beating Colombia in match one, there’s a house money feel to this one.

Senegal  — Fortunes up — Controversy aside, the Lions of Teranga deserved all three points against Poland and are in pole position to win the group.

Poland  — Fortunes down — Disappointing is an understatement leading into a match versus Colombia which could leave both on the outskirts with a match to go.

Colombia  — Fortunes down — Carlos Sanchez’s third minute red card didn’t ultimately doom them, but the task is tall with equally desperate Poland up next.