Match Preview: LA Galaxy vs. Chivas USA

SuperClasico returns as bitter rivals clash at Home Depot Center

SuperClasico

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The basics

LA Galaxy vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Galaxy lead all-time regular-season series 10-3-5.

Television

11 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

What's at stake?

Bragging rights in the so-called SuperClásico. Actually, the Galaxy have bragging rights for many reasons—10 regular-season wins, the playoff win from ’09, the U.S. Open Cup in ’05—but Chivas could make a tiny dent in that and at least go the next six months having had the last laugh. The clubs won’t meet again until October.

Last meeting

After a sloppy, uncharacteristic—yet highly-entertaining—2-2 draw in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals, the Galaxy and Chivas squared off in a defensive battle. The Galaxy won it late in the match after Mike Magee was knocked down inside the penalty area by Yamith Cuesta. Landon Donovan converted the penalty kick and the Galaxy ousted Chivas from the MLS Cup playoffs.

Remember when?

Yes, there have been Chivas sightings in this series. Chivas beat the Galaxy by 3-0 scores in successive games in 2007. The first, on Aug. 22, 2007, caused a massive reaction from then-Galaxy coach Frank Yallop. David Beckham played in England the day before the game and was on the pitch for all 90 minutes of Chivas’ 3-0 rout, and Yallop had a post-game meltdown, claiming the team was “[expletive] knackered.” Chivas won the next meeting a few weeks later by the same score but have not been heard from since.

Heroes & villains

Sacha Kljestan vs. Dema Kovalenko—Chivas USA's new captain didn't have the greatest performance in his first match as skipper. Kljestan played more of a central role than he has in the past but was hardly an influence as Chivas' attack sputtered. Kovalenko will be around Kljestan more than in previous games if Kljestan stays in the middle. Kljestan needs to figure out a way to keep the Galaxy's bullish defensive midfielder off him if he has a shot of creating offense.

Omar Gonzalez vs. Maykel Galindo—What will win out: size or speed? The Galaxy's strong central defender will be relied upon to neutralize Galindo and the speedy Cuban's runs inside the box. If Gonzalez gives away too much room, Galindo will be able to exploit that and could get himself some looks at goal. But if Galindo is constantly finding himself bumped and pushed off the ball by Gonzalez, Chivas' offense will have to come from another source.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm …”

Until 2009, the Galaxy had destroyed Chivas in the first meeting of each year. The Galaxy won games by scores of 3-0 (in 2005), 2-1 (2006), 3-1 (2007) and 5-2 (2008). The 2006 result was particularly gut-wrenching as Cornell Glen scored two late goals to help the Galaxy win. Last season's first SuperClásico was a 0-0 draw.

He said it

“It’s obviously different. They’ve got a different coach, a lot of different players and it’s a short week for us. We’re still coming off the New England game, and once our focus gets to Chivas, no matter who they have and who their coach is, it always ends up being a physical, tight game,” -- Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein on how the Clásico has changed from the previous meeting, in November.