The #CaliClasico delivers year in, year out, and the past three have been exceptional. In 2016, it was the late equalizer from Shea Salinas to Chad Barrett. In 2017, it was the beautiful goal from Wondolowski to equalize late, and then the unreal go-ahead goal from Salinas. This year it was two of the best goal scorers in the history of soccer going head-to-head, with another DP on each side scoring as well. Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened up the scoring with a rocket off the volley that was just stunning. The force with which the ball came off his foot was absurd. Joe and I were so taken aback by that goal happening that quickly with type of punctuation. You just don't see goals like that when the game is mere moments old, unless of course we're talking about Zlatan Ibrahimovic. His second goal was another moment of mastery, keeping the ball low, knowing how to read the angles, and knowing how to use his leg. I know there are probably plenty of people that will read this and dislike Zlatan because he plays for the Galaxy, and I won't stop you, but you should really take a moment to appreciate Ibra, and what he did on Saturday night. We got to see one of the all-time greats show why he has earned that distinction. Romain Alessandrini also showed why he is such a fun player to watch. That free kick goal that he scored was a beauty, and I continue enjoying him whenever the Quakes and Galaxy clash. It was also fun watching David Bingham go against his former team, and he made a couple of beautiful saves. He's not the first keeper to experience life on both sides of the rivalry (Joe Cannon knows), and the fans showed their appreciation for a man that provided many thrilling moments for the Earthquakes franchise.
And then there's Wondo. Chris Wondolowski has scored four goals in his last four games, both by way of a brace. He now sits at 140 career MLS goals, five shy of tying Landon Donovan, and six away from becoming the all-time leader in goals scored. At six goals on the year, he is now just four away from scoring double-digit goals for a record ninth consecutive seasons. With 140 goals in 310 league appearances, he has scored goals at a cumulative rate of 45% of the matches he has appeared in (relative inaccuracy noted, but looking for quantification).
His first PK shot was stopped by (an "early?") David Bingham, only to be right there for the rebound and the goal. Bingham had no chance on the second penalty kick. Two goals for Wondolowski with plenty of time left. He came within inches of a third and go-ahead goal when he rattled one off the near post later in the match. Wondolowski is half way there, half way through the season.
Everything about the annual event of the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium is perfect. The weather, the fireworks, the atmosphere, the play on the pitch, the 50 thousand fans. The fact that each year provides us with such compelling drama start to finish. There's no guarantee next year's will be as good, but I'm betting it'll probably be better.
Reinforcements on the Way
With the Earthquakes playing their most consistent soccer of the season (three straight draws), they now look forward to the return of Anibal Godoy and Harold Cummings from the World Cup, and then it's Guram Kashia available after July 10th. Hopefully, these draws can turn into wins, and the team can start building some momentum, especially with the team getting back to full strength. We've seen greater displays of chemistry and cohesiveness from the Quakes over the past few matches, and ideally, that would only be bolstered by the infusion of greater talent. Though the Quakes are at the bottom of the table, until they are actually eliminated, they've got to play like the playoffs are on the line in every single match, because they are, in a way. Each loss or tie makes the likelihood of a playoff miss that much more likely, there's no choice now but to win, and to win often. I'm not giving up.
We've never won here. Why not start now? They are a good team, but they are not unbeatable. Hoesen, Wondo, Magnus, Vako are all capable scorers. Combine that with a team that has been taking steps, however small, towards improvement, you might see it all come together on Saturday night. Go Quakes!