San Jose Earthquakes All Star forward Cristian Espinoza speaks with reporters after the team's practice at Stanford Stadium on Wednesday. Photo by Thien-An Truong/TTRUONGPHOTO.

When the San Jose Earthquakes played the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) on May 6 at Levi’s Stadium, the game drew over 40,000 people. 

A crowd in excess of 40,000 is also expected when the Quakes play the LA Galaxy in the 97th edition of the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium on Saturday at 7:30pm. 

The rivalry match will kick off with a pregame Fan Fest just outside Stanford Stadium and will end with the biggest fireworks show in the Bay Area. Members of the U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup roster including Kelly O’Hara and Naomi Girma will fire the Earthquakes siren and halftime will feature performances by Too $hort, Mistah FAB, and LaRussell in celebration of 50 years of Hip-Hop music.

PayPal Park is one of the best venues in the MLS, but the Quakes have gotten used to playing at different stadiums locally and adjusted accordingly.

“The guys are super excited we’re going to be able to draw more fans than normal, and against our California rivals, in the Clasico,” Quakes coach Luchi Gonzalez said after the team’s practice at Stanford on Wednesday. “So we’re excited building momentum and having a really good training at the stadium today. [The excitement level is cranked up] a bit because you get the stimulus of what the field feels like, the dimensions, the stadium. But it doesn’t replace when you have the people here and the energy, the crowd, that’s what we can’t wait for.”

The Quakes (7-6-7, 27 points) enter Saturday’s match fifth in the Western Conference standings, though only two points separate them from the eighth and ninth-place teams, the final two spots that make the playoffs. San Jose looks to get back on track as it is coming off back-to-back losses for the first time all season. 

Meanwhile, the Galaxy (3-6-9, 15 points) have struggled so far and sit second to last in the conference. Forward Cristian Espinoza was the lone San Jose player to get selected to the 26-man MLS All Star roster. The MLS All Stars play Arsenal FC on July 19 at Audi Field in Washington D.C.

Espinoza, 28, has eight goals and six assists this season, and has been one of the league’s most productive players since the start of the 2022 campaign. Espinoza is one of only nine players in MLS with at least 35 goals, and one of only four with at least 20 assists over the same span.

Espinoza was selected by All-Star coach Wayne Rooney, earning his first trip to the All Star Game after five seasons in San Jose, a period in which he’s tallied 23 goals and 50 assists over 139 appearances. 

“I feel so happy and it’s really a great opportunity for me,” Espinoza said. “Really thankful for my teammates, my coach, everyone who works here in San Jose.”

MLS made huge news earlier this month when Lionel Messi announced he was leaving Paris Saint-German for Inter Miami. Messi, the all-time great who led Argentina to the World Cup title last year, is expected to make his MLS debut on July 21. 

“Everybody was texting me about Messi coming to the league,” Espinoza said. “To be honest I’m really happy and it’ll be very, very fun to have him playing against us. Well, I hope because with the schedule you never really know. [But] it’ll be very good for the league to have the best player ever [here].”

Quakes coach Luchi Gonzalez talks with reporters after Wednesday’s practice at Stanford Stadium. Photo by Thien-An Truong/TTRUONGPHOTO.
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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


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