CARSON, Calif. – The noon start time for the 29th regular season edition of SuperClasico made for toasty conditions on the field and in order to get a victory against their cross-hall rivals Chivas USA, the LA Galaxy simply turned the heat up even more.
LA dominated from the opening whistle in all stretches of the game as Robbie Keane, Stefan Ishiazki and Baggio Husidic all scored to give the Galaxy their first win of the 2014 MLS campaign. The win takes LA’s record in the SuperClasico to an impressive 19-4-6 in matches against Chivas USA.
The dominant performance was in some part down to the Galaxy opting to utilize a midfield diamond formation as Baggio Husidic and Marcelo Sarvas played out wide while Juninho and Stefan Ishizaki played in the middle. With all four players liking to tuck into the center of the park, LA was able to flood the midfield and create a numerical advantage that paid major dividends.
“They spent a lot of time defending us and worrying about us and that makes it difficult especially on a day like today where it’s so hot,” Donovan told reporters after the victory. “When you do a lot of chasing and defending, when you get the ball then you don’t have the energy to go forward. We did a good job of pressing and getting the ball back immediately so we were able to have wave after wave of attack.
“We didn’t give them a lot of time to play and catch their breath,” he continued. “We kept the pressure on and you have to credit us with that.”
Despite downplaying the formation change, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told reporters after the match that the personnel on the field allowed gave LA the perfect combination of passing prowess and defensive bite.
“There’s enough bite in them where they can win tackles. Marcelo [Sarvas], Juninho, and Baggio [Husidic ] get around the ball pretty well. They can all pass the ball; those are good characteristics for midfield players,” said Arena.
Donovan agreed with his coach’s assessment.
“We’re putting our best passing team on the field. We have a lot of quality on the field so we move well and pass well. When guys are combining, it’s really difficult to defend against,” said Donovan. “When Robbie and I get underneath, the other guys are recognizing it well and moving forward. Marcelo got behind them, Baggio got behind them, Stefan got behind them, Juninho got forward and made plays, so when you make defenders deal with all those things, it makes it very difficult.”
The Galaxy’s superior passing ability was demonstrated throughout the match as LA completed 88.8 percent of their passes but the finest display came in the 56th minute. Off the counter attack created by a Chivas turnover, the Galaxy completed six passes before Husidic fired a rocket from the edge of the penalty area to cap off the Galaxy’s 3-0 win.
“It was certainly a proper goal the way that we like to play,” said Keane. “A counter attack, keeping the ball and going as quick as possible, and ultimately we got a great goal from it.”
After such a comprehensive performance could the diamond be the formation of the future for the Galaxy?
“It seems to be working. We’ve limited the chances for the other teams and I don’t see why he would change it at the moment,” said Husidic. “But of course each team plays different so he’s going to make changes [at times].”
But regardless of the formation’s importance, there was no doubt that the win was just the shot in the arm that the Galaxy have been looking for to kick start their season.
“Today was very enjoyable. We had a lot of fun playing today and as we get more comfortable playing with another, it’s going to get even better,” said Donovan. “We have the quality to pull of plays like that. It’s not always going to happen perfectly but we certainly have the ability.”