Both the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes return from their World Cup break trying to move past their U.S. Open Cup disappointments Saturday night in the first chapter of the California Clasico.
The Galaxy (4-3-5) fielded most of their first-team regulars - starting Robbie Keane, Juninho and Leonardo and eventually bringing on Landon Donovan - at NASL side Carolina on Tuesday, but suffered a 1-0 loss in extra time as RailHawks goalkeeper Scott Goodwin made eight saves and denied Los Angeles a spot in the quarterfinals.
In league play, Los Angeles was unbeaten in its last four matches (2-0-2) before the break, but coach Bruce Arena thinks his team has underachieved. Part of that is due to a lack of scoring beyond his big three of Keane, Donovan and Gyasi Zardes, who have combined for 14 of the team's 18 goals across all competitions.
"It's absolutely ridiculous that in our league we have three losses and five ties," Arena told MLS' official website. "It's ridiculous. I think we've played much better than our record indicated. We should be doing better."
The Galaxy will be without a key member of their defense as Omar Gonzalez continues to play for the United States in the knockout round of the World Cup. Despite the 1-0 loss to Germany on Thursday, Gonzalez played a solid match in his first World Cup start and appears likely to make a second versus Belgium in the round of 16 on Tuesday.
"We've missed Omar now for a significant part of the season," Donovan said. "He would certainly help us. But other than that we've played well and defended well and we certainly need to do a better job scoring goals. We can't rely on Robbie all the time."
San Jose (4-5-4), which is one point behind Los Angeles, lost to Seattle on penalty kicks in the fifth round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday. The Earthquakes conceded two minutes after Steven Lenhart provided a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute, and David Bingham failed to stop any of the Sounders' four attempts from the spot.
The Earthquakes might not be able to fully exploit Gonzalez's absence since their top striker - Chris Wondolowski - is with him in Brazil.
Wondolowski has a team-high five of San Jose's 15 goals in league play, and the offense has been hit or miss without him. The last league match was a miss as the Earthquakes registered only two shots on goal in a 1-0 loss at Toronto FC on June 7.
It's uncertain if defender Victor Bernardez will be available after playing in all three matches for Honduras at the World Cup.
The teams each claimed four points from their three matches last season and played to a scoreless draw in the most recent meeting Oct. 20, giving Los Angeles the California Clasico on goal differential.
The 'Quakes won the last match at San Jose, rallying for two goals in injury time to win 3-2 despite playing with 10 men after Bernardez picked up his second yellow card in the 77th minute.