Behind door number 22 of our San Jose Earthquakes advent calendar is one of the fiercest rivalries in MLS: the California Clasico. And I say “one of” because everyone knows only a Sith deals in absolutes, but if I were being honest, I would call this the best rivalry in the league. My opinion is obviously biased but what other rivalry is so heated that the team mascot gets into a shoving match with David Beckham?
The Clasico had its first edition in the leagues inaugural season when LA Galaxy defeated the Earthquakes, then known as The Clash, 2-1 in front of over 40,000 people at the Rose Bowl on April 28, 1996. That started a couple of seasons of dominance for Galaxy as they went on to win nine of the next 12 editions of the Clasico. The Earthquakes had more success after the beginning of the new millennium both in the league and in the Clasico winning MLS Cup twice after the turn of the century. They won back-to-back Clasico’s against Galaxy for the first time ever in the year 2000. The only edition of the Clasico that took place in a MLS final was in 2001 when the Earthquakes defeated Galaxy 2-1 on a golden goal by Dwayne De Rosario.
Regional rivalries are difficult to discuss because most people don’t live in the specific regions that are being talked about. Why does Boston hate New York? What did Wisconsin do to Chicago to raise their ire? I don’t know, and I’m sure I can hear stories from all sides and still not understand it any better. If there is one thing you learn from this short story is that Galaxy wishes they could be to MLS what they Yankees are to MLB and that’s just sad. To put it shorter, LA Galaxy bad San Jose Earthquakes hella good.