San Jose Earthquakes legend Chris Wondolowski on LA Galaxy rivalry & Cristian Espinoza | OneFootball

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·12 May 2023

San Jose Earthquakes legend Chris Wondolowski on LA Galaxy rivalry & Cristian Espinoza

Article image:San Jose Earthquakes legend Chris Wondolowski on LA Galaxy rivalry & Cristian Espinoza

San Jose Earthquakes legend Chris Wondolowski discussed the in-state rivalry with the LA Galaxy ahead of their late-night clash this Saturday.

Two years after retirement, Wondolowski still detests the now struggling LA Galaxy. This was evident during his playing career as he scored 14 goals in 34 matches against the Southern California team, usually coming out as the victor.


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"I don't like the Galaxy in general, that’s for sure," Wondolowski said to MLS. "But with MLS there's that turnover and six degrees of separation between every team. You end up knowing and playing with guys who have been at both places, like for me an Alan Gordon. Even with the US national team, I was friends with Landon Donovan."

"So I can't say I had bad blood to the guys, but I have bad blood to the Galaxy. It's player versus club," he added.

In some fans' eyes, the 'Cali Clasico' may not mean as much anymore with the arrival of LAFC. But Wondolowski claims that they will always be rivals as they are two of the league's original clubs.

"The dynamic has changed a little bit with LAFC being around because there always was just the California battle between the two," he said. "But San Jose and LA have had some epic games, which has added to the allure. There's a good rivalry, one where both clubs have successful pasts too. There's that history, those battles you remember and get inspired by."

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Right now, San Jose are enjoying a strong start to the campaign, with 18 points after 11 games played. That record is good enough for fourth place in the Western Conference table, two points off the top of Conference leaders Seattle Sounders.

On the other hand, the Galaxy are enduring their worst ever start to a season. The Western Conference team have just one win after 10 games played with six points, and sit in 13th place in the West, one spot above last-placed Sporting Kansas City on goal difference.

However, Wondolowski knows that form goes out of the window when two rivals come together.

"The Galaxy are desperate for some points right now, so that makes for a dangerous team," Wondowloski stated. "We'll need to have that killer instinct and be ruthless and play the game we have been lately. We need to expect the Galaxy to bring their best. They have the payroll, the profile of player, have been creating xG. It's just a matter of time before the goals start going in for them."

The former USMNT player had plenty of praise for San Jose forward Cristian Espinoza. Espinoza, who's been at San Jose since 2020, is a leading candidate for the Landon Donovan MVP Award with his standout performances this season with eight goals and three assists in 11 games.

"To be honest, he's put up these numbers before," said Wondolowski about the Argentine. "If he was on Galaxy or LAFC or New York City, he'd be the MVP each year. It's unfortunate that he hasn't quite gotten the media coverage before, but he's put those assists and chances up each year."

"He's been an amazing player for this club. It's just now he has the goals to his name as well, people respond to that. Now they recognize him a little bit more, so they're talking more as they should."

Head coach Luchi Gonzalez, in his first season at the club, has transformed this San Jose team as they push for a playoff spot for the first time since 2020.

"Luchi commands a locker room and instills his game model where the guys are bought in," Wondolowski affirmed. "He does an amazing job of developing young talent and getting the most out of them, so that's really fun to be around. He has a philosophy of one where we're going to work hard, we're going to grind, but we're also going to laugh, to enjoy ourselves. It's nice right now."

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