STANF0RD -- It's on again at Stanford Stadium.
The Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy will renew their storied and bitter rivalry, which has included dramatic finishes, heated tempers and even police intervention, on Saturday night in front of another huge crowd.
In 2012, the Quakes rallied for a wild 4-3 win over David Beckham and the Galaxy in front of 50,391 on The Farm, in the Northern California soccer event of the summer.
Beckham, who lost his cool near the end of last year's game, is no longer with the Galaxy, and the Quakes are struggling. But the excitement for the California Clasico remains palpable.
"It says a lot about the interest in soccer and Earthquakes' soccer here in the Bay Area," said Quakes president Dave Kaval, who's expecting another sellout. "We have so many fans and supporters of our organization and of soccer, and the fact that we can continuously fill this stadium year after year is a great indication of that."
Of course, nothing stokes the coals of Quakes fans quite like beating Los Angeles. Last season, San Jose had a 2-0-1 mark in the regular season against the Galaxy, rallying from deficits in each game. Then Landon Donovan and Irish superstar Robbie Keane helped Los Angeles eliminate the Quakes in the Western Conference semifinals en route to the MLS Cup title.
Saturday's match marks the third consecutive year a large crowd will watch the Quakes at Stanford. In 2011, the Quakes and New York tied 2-2 in front of 41,028.
"I love these atmospheres, these big occasions," Quakes leading scorer Chris Wondolowski said. "I think it's going to be a great crowd and against a huge rival in the Galaxy. It's exactly halfway through the season, and we need to turn it around. What better place than here and against L.A.?"
Wondolowski, who hasn't scored since May 8, had the signature moment at Stanford last season with a side-heel-flick goal for the winner. The Danville native celebrated by saluting the servicemen and servicewomen backing the goal behind the signage boards.
"It ranks as one of the top moments and memories in my career," Wondolowski said this week.
How heated has the Galaxy-Quakes rivalry been? Even hotter than the weather expected on Saturday.
Last season, in a 2-2 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium in October, violence erupted in the stands, leading to seven arrests and police escorting 100 Galaxy fans out of the stadium.
In 2005, a crowd of about 15,000 arrived at Spartan Stadium mostly to boo Donovan. Quakes fans were livid after Donovan, the poster boy for American soccer at the time, signed with Los Angeles instead of returning to the Quakes, after playing with Germany's Bayer Leverkusen. He had led San Jose to MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003.
"There's a lot to this," Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said of the rivalry in a recent club release. "It's not just on the field, it's off the field with the fans and it's an intrastate rivalry with two good clubs and two clubs with a lot of championships."
The Quakes (4-7-6) reside in eighth place in the Western Conference and have yet to recapture the flair of the 2012 squad, which led the league in goals by a wide margin and in spine-tingling comebacks. San Jose ranks near the bottom of the league in scoring and goals allowed during a disjointed season, in which suspensions and national team call-ups have dogged its steps. The Quakes have been shut out in five of their past seven games.
Maybe Saturday's blockbuster will wake up the team.
"This is a great opportunity for us to right the ship a little bit," midfielder Sam Cronin said. "It's gonna be a great atmosphere, and what a great place to get a good win and get kick-started again."
The Quakes are buoyed by the return of Victor Bernardez (groin strain), Steven Lenhart (knee inflammation) and Wondolowski (foot contusion) from injuries that kept them out of a 1-0 loss at D.C. United last week. Lenhart has scored in each of the Quakes' two Stanford appearances, following his goal last season by doing pull-ups on the crossbar.
Interim Quakes coach Mark Watson said Wondolowski was "moving well" in practice Thursday and is wearing a special right shoe to take some of the pressure off.
The Quakes got more bad news Thursday, when wing Marvin Chavez was called up by Honduras for the Gold Cup, meaning he will miss four Quakes games in July, just as Wondolowski could be while representing the United States.