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First Leg: Nov. 4, 9 p.m. EDT (ESPN)
Second Leg: Nov. 7, 11 p.m. EDT (ESPN2)
In what I expect to be one of the best matchups of the entire postseason, the San Jose Earthquakes will face the Los Angeles Galaxy to determine who advances to the Western Conference Semifinals.
The San Jose Earthquakes were the best team in the regular season and won the Supporters' Shield, but will they be able to carry over that success to the playoffs?
Chris Wondolowski, who led the league in scoring this season and tied the record for most goals in a season, will be San Jose's key player. Forwards Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon are also players to watch during this series.
The Galaxy are coming off a nerve-racking win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but after coming back from being down 1-0 to win 2-1, L.A. has a lot of momentum heading into this series.
Injuries may be a pretty big problem for the Galaxy, though. Right-back Sean Franklin sat out the game against Vancouver but may be ready to play against San Jose. Hector Jimenez, naturally a midfielder, started in place of him, and it didn't look pretty at all. In fact, Vancouver's goal was a result of Jimenez's defensive blunder.
In addition, A.J. DeLaGarza is still out, and rookie Tommy Meyer will fill in for him. All of a sudden, L.A.'s defense seems to be easily exploitable for a San Jose offense that loves to play physical.
Midfielders Juninho and Christian Wilhelmsson also have small injuries. The Galaxy's injury woes may well be their downfall. Combine that with short rest because of the knockout round, and San Jose looks to be in prime position to take out the Galaxy.
In three games against each other this season, L.A. has lost twice and most recently drew 2-2.
I think Bruce Arena will send out his best squad possible on Sunday, even if some of his players have minor injuries. L.A.'s momentum will help them win the first leg 3-2.
In the second game, the Galaxy will look tired but will manage to draw 2-2.
Even though San Jose has had the better season, I think the Galaxy will step up against their rivals and end the Earthquakes' season.
Los Angeles Galaxy advance 5-4.