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Courtesy: mls soccer

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy center back Jelle Van Damme still was having a difficult time recovering from last weekend’s last-second, 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids, a result he called “a bummer.” But there’s nothing like Saturday’s derby against the arch-rival San Jose Earthquakes at StubHub Center to stir his competitive urges.

The Belgian international is new to this season’s first California Clasico (7:30 p.m., Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Time Warner Cable Deportes), having joined the five-time MLS Cup champions in late January, but he’d much rather take part in contests like these than others with little, if anything, at stake.

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“I know there’s a rivalry,” he said. “I prefer games like this than the other way around, without atmosphere or rivals or whatever. It only helps the games to be better.”

The Galaxy’s Robbie Keane is no stranger to some of the world’s biggest rivalries, with experience competing in the likes of the Old Firm derby, Liverpool derby and the North London derby.

The annual California Clásicos are among the most bitter rivalry matches in MLS, and Keane said they are beginning to match their European counterparts.

“I think the more the league grows I think the more you’re going to get bigger rivalries,” he said. “I think when everybody plays against LA Galaxy I think it’s their rivalry. Everybody wants to beat us. That’s a challenge that we as a team have to deal with and accept.

“These are always good games to be a part of.”

Keane said he really doesn’t care who his opponent is.

“Regardless of who I’m playing I still get the same feeling,” he said. “I still want to play, I still want to compete. For me it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change.

“I’d like to think I wake up on a Saturday morning and I feel the same whether I’m playing for Liverpool against Everton or playing for the Galaxy against Santos (Laguna). I feel the same. I love what I do. That’s why we play the game, we practice every day to be ready to play.”

The Galaxy (1-1-0) will be taking on a San Jose (2-0-0) side that is one of three unbeaten teams in MLS along with Montreal and Sporting Kansas City. The Earthquakes trail the all-time series with the Galaxy 28-20-12 and haven’t won at StubHub Center since 2013, but they did have five victories and two draws on the road last season and scored 24 away goals, the most of any Western Conference team.

The Galaxy, on the other hand, have found the road to be a wasteland of late and haven’t won outside of StubHub Center since last August in Dallas. Van Damme said he hopes the Galaxy learned a great deal from their latest road disappointment, which he called an “ugly” game.

“It wasn’t a pretty game on both sides,” he said. “But these ugly games you have to take points from them. We didn’t. We did everything well except get the points. That’s the only thing we didn’t do.”

The Galaxy’s Robbie Rogers said he doesn’t expect things to get any prettier on Saturday.

“The guys are going to have to be ready for a real fight,” he said. “San Jose started well this season. It might not be the prettiest game, maybe it will, but they’ll probably try to make it really ugly and just try to battle.

“We have to be ready for that.”

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