Landon Donovan knows all about the rivalry between Los Angeles and San Jose, having helped both teams win a combined five MLS Cup titles while being one of the league's marquee players.
The Galaxy forward, though, enters Saturday's California Clasico against the Earthquakes looking for one last solid performance before trying to resurrect his international career at the Gold Cup.
The all-time leading scorer in U.S. history with 49 goals in 144 appearances, Donovan has been a spectator while the national team has surged to the top of the standings in World Cup qualifying. This was due to his self-imposed sabbatical that carried into the early part of the season, costing him match fitness.
Klinsmann, though, likely will feature Donovan as his first-choice striker for the Gold Cup, in which he is the all-time leader with 13 goals. He is expected to play against Guatemala in a friendly July 5, and the potential to play six matches in a 21-day span will go a long way in determining if Donovan will help the United States qualify for a seventh consecutive World Cup - and potentially play in soccer's biggest tournament for the fourth time.
"I don't want to worry about what happens in the future, but I want to do my best in this tournament," Donovan said. "This tournament historically has meant a lot to our team. It means a lot to me, and I want to win the tournament. And I want to be part of something special at the end of this month.''
He assisted on Gyasi Zardes' goal in the 44th minute Sunday to give Los Angeles (7-6-3) a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA. Donovan, who scored 42 goals in four seasons with San Jose (4-7-6) from 2001-04, has nine goals and eight assists in 16 career matches against the Earthquakes.
The Earthquakes also will be represented at the Gold Cup by striker Chris Wondolowski, who leads the team with five goals but is well off his pace of last year's MLS record-tying 27. San Jose closed out a 1-3-0 road trip with a 1-0 defeat to D.C. last Saturday - its seventh shutout loss in 2013.
San Jose will also be looking to shore up a defense that recorded its only clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Seattle on March 23.
"Every team for the most part is going to get some looks at goal. Unfortunately we have been getting punished for every mistake and half mistake thus far," defender Jason Hernandez said. "(Interim coach) Mark (Watson) has us really concentrating on being difficult to break down and hopefully that will carry over into the weekend."
Backline help will eventually arrive with Clarence Goodson, whom the Earthquakes signed Thursday. A member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup squad, Goodson played for Danish squad Brondby the last three seasons and also is on the U.S. roster for the Gold Cup.
The Earthquakes had two wins and a draw in the three regular-season meetings last year, rallying from two-goal deficits in both victories. Los Angeles, though, posted a 3-2 aggregate victory in the Western Conference semifinals en route to their second straight MLS Cup title, overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit with a 3-1 victory at San Jose as Robbie Keane scored two goals in a 13-minute span of the first half.
This match will be the home debut for Watson, who is 1-1-0.