Earthquakes hope to begin revival under new coach Leitch (Jul 01, 2017)
The Chris Leitch era as the San Jose Earthquakes coach started with a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders FC in a U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday night.
Now Leitch must show what he can do coaching his team on short rest, as his squad hosts the LA Galaxy on Saturday night at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif.
Leitch, a former San Jose defender, took over after the Earthquakes fired Dominic Kinnear earlier in the week -- surprisingly after the Earthquakes beat Real Salt Lake 2-1.
San Jose management wanted to make the change to enhance the team's playoff chances. The Earthquakes, in a four-year postseason drought, are in fifth place in the Western Conference with 23 points and a 6-6-5 record.
The LA Galaxy enter Saturday's match in sixth place (the final playoff spot) a point behind San Jose with a 6-6-4 record.
Saturday's match is part of the California Clasico showdown. The rivals will square off again in the Round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup on July 10 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.
Leitch, 38, believes his presence can give the Earthquakes the confidence they need as the season heads into July.
"I think this group is really focused on reaching its goals, and I don't see anything getting in this team's way," Leitch said. "This is a damn good team."
Leitch is forced to coach a team with a limited roster because of injuries and international call-ups for the upcoming Gold Cup. He allowed some of his younger players to gain experience as rookies Jackson Yueill and Nick Lima started against Seattle along with fellow GenNext players Tommy Thompson and Kip Colvey.
The Galaxy are coming off a 2-0 win over the Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup.
Ariel Lassiter, a 22-year-old forward for the Galaxy, scored his second goal of the tournament on a free kick. He is an example of another young player getting his chance with international play taking some of the top players in the MLS.
"It's something that I've always wanted to do, stepping on the field I always want to score," said Lassiter, son of legendary soccer player Roy Lassiter. "Getting the goal tonight is a plus and a confidence booster as well. I just want to keep it up."
San Jose is 4-1-4 in home matches this season while the Galaxy is 5-2-1 on the road.
The Galaxy won the previous meeting at home on May 27, a 4-2 decision behind two goals by Giovani dos Santos. He is with Mexico at the Confederations Cup in Moscow. Mexico is playing in the third-place game against Portugal on Sunday.