California Classico 2012: SJ Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy

City derby matches always produce the most intense and exciting soccer matches.  The most famous ones even have their own name:  think Manchester City vs. Manchester United (Manchester Derby), Liverpool vs. Everton (Merseyside Derby), Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund (Deutschland National Derby) and Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona (El Clasico).
In California, we have a derby of our own: the California Classico, between the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy.  The Galaxy have won more Classicos in the past (10 win to the Earthquake's 5), but this season the Earthquakes have been in top form, and are currently at the top of the MLS, while the Galaxy are barely halfway up the league.  So the stage was set for a match.

The match was held at Stanford Stadium, which seats 50,000, which is 5 times the capacity of Buck Shaw Stadium, where the Quakes usually play.  But the California Classico is a Big Deal.  The match had been heavily promoted for months before, and there were quite a few special activities aside from the game itself.

To kick things off, kids' soccer teams from around the area marched around the soccer pitch in a players' parade.  3Po and Jammy were lucky to be among the 2,000 kids whose team managers applied.  They marched with their team members and posed for photos behind the goal. Just before the game, three paratroopers jumped out of planes and landed on the station.  Then, during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, just as the band started on the "O'er the land of the freeeeeee......" part, two fighter jets did a fly-by right over the field! 

The halftime show was a tribute to the US Military, featuring members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard and a huge US flag lifted into the air by huge stars-and-stripes balloons. Super cool!

The game itself was amazing.  We got to see star Galaxy players David Beckham (that's him in the blue shirt, running across the field), Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.  All three were absolutely lethal on the field, and Beckham even scored a goal from one of his famous bending free kicks.

All the Beckhams in the world couldn't save the game for the Galaxy, though; San Jose played an incredible second half -- at the start of the half they were behind, 3-1, and by the end of the game they had won 4-3! 

We even got to see some off-the-game drama, as David Beckham (no doubt frustrated by the Galaxy's poor form as well as his omission from the Team GB Olympic squad) lost his temper, threw the ball at players, started fights, and generally acted like a poor sport.  Finally, we got to see fireworks of a different sort -- there was a 30-minute fireworks display right after the game. 

In fact, the only thing sub-par about the whole event was the food -- I much prefer the gourmet food trucks at Buck Shaw Stadium to the bland hamburger/hotdog/pretzel fare at Stanford Stadium.  Fortunately, the next Classico (in October) will be at Buck Shaw Stadium -- so we'd better get tickets soon.

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