The Los Angeles Galaxy lost the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals to the San Jose Earthquakes and are now playing from behind going into this crucial postseason match.
The Earthquakes’ victory did not come without controversy, as the Galaxy were furious with the referee after he awarded a free kick in a dangerous position in the closing moments of the match. Victor Bernardez converted the opportunity to give San Jose a narrow 1-0 win.
There is no love lost between these two teams, and the tension will be extremely high after this recent result.
Kickoff is on Wednesday, November 7 at 11 p.m. ET. Here are the players for each team that will be crucial for their chances to reach the conference finals.
Chris Wondolowski, Striker
The Earthquakes' success this season has been led by their attack. The team had the best record in the MLS during the regular season, and its 72 goals scored this year was 13 more than the Galaxy, who finished second in that category.
The driving force behind their unstoppable offense has been Chris Wondolowski. He tied an all-time MLS record and won the Golden Boot for the second time in three seasons, as noted by The San Jose Mercury News’ Elliott Almond. He has tallied 27 total goals this year.
Wondolowski has been the consummate centre-forward this season. He is intelligent with his movement and rarely wastes opportunities in front of goal.
If the Galaxy allow him space in the penalty area, he will punish them. Unless Los Angeles keeps a close mark on the star forward, their season will end after this match.
Marvin Chavez, Midfielder
Wondolowski has remained humble throughout his recent success, and he was quoted by Almond saying, “So many of the goals are built through the team. I'm not dribbling through guys. Guys are putting it right on my head.”
One of the guys who has excelled at playing pin-point balls towards Wondolowski is midfielder Marvin Chavez.
The Honduran leads the Earthquakes with 13 assists this season, and his creativity will be crucial in ensuring the team’s attack is as potent as it his been throughout this campaign.
It took San Jose more than 90 minutes to find the back of the net in the last meeting, and Chavez must keep his head on a swivel when the ball is at his feet in the upcoming showdown.
Landon Donavon, Striker
With 10 goals and 13 assists on the season, Landon Donavon has been the Galaxy’s most important player.
He remains the face of the MLS and United States soccer, and his production speaks for itself.
Throughout this season, Donovan has continued to be extremely dangerous as both a scorer and a distributor. His assist total is the highest in the league, and he will need to continue playing at an extremely high level in the most important match of his season.
Without an impressive performance from Donavon, the Galaxy will not be threatening enough offensively in order to earn the result they need to move on.
Robbie Keane, Striker
Who will avance to the Western Conference finals?
Los Angeles will need a standout performance from an aging former English Premier League star, and that player is not David Beckham.
Robbie Keane has been the Galaxy’s most potent goal scorer this year, hitting the back of the net 16 times in this campaign.
The team’s strikers must keep constant pressure on Earthquakes back line in this match. That will force the midfielders into more defensive positions and limit their ability to build in the attack.
With fine performances from Donovan and Keane, Los Angeles has an excellent shot at advancing.