Preview: LA at Chivas USA

Galaxy, Goats rekindle rivalry in Honda SuperClásico

Omar Gonzalez vs Chivas USA - April 1, 2010

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Getty Images

The Basics

Chivas USA (7-14-4, 25 points, eighth place in Western Conference) vs. LA Galaxy (15-6-5, 50 points, first place in Western Conference) at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

TV Info - National Broadcast

5 pm PT; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

Intro

Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy fight for control of Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon in the second of their two-game 2010 Honda SuperClásico series.

LA currently hold the edge thanks to a 2-0 victory back on April 2, but the Red-and-White will enjoy the support of a noisy home crowd as they try to even the score and take home the silverware.

With Chivas USA all but eliminated from the 2010 playoffs, Sunday’s game provides the Goats with the opportunity to salvage some pride and take down their hated rivals.

Chivas USA

The Red-and-White have had a tough season. With 25 points from 25 games, the team holds on to hopes of a fifth consecutive postseason appearance by a thread.

Much of the trouble in 2010 has come from the Goats’ inability to find the back of the net; Chivas USA have scored just 25 goals so far this season, good for second-worst in all of MLS. Head coach Martín Vásquez will likely use the team’s remaining five games to tweak his attack in hopes of finding a combination that works for next year.

Of primary concern for Chivas USA on Sunday will be containing LA’s potent offense. The Galaxy have scored the second-most goals in the league this year and have proven themselves to be dangerous in front of net. Chivas USA centerbacks Michael Umaña and Yamith Cuesta (usual starter Darío Delgado is listed as questionable after sustaining a contusion on his right foot against Philadelphia last weekend) will have their hands full dealing with David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle. Look for the Goats to come out firing on Sunday to try and avoid allowing LA to get into any offensive rhythm.

LA Galaxy

The Galaxy have had an impressive campaign this season and will only be stronger with the reintroduction of Beckham.

The team started 2010 on a tear, winning 10 of their first 12 matches and didn’t record a single loss until June. But recently, the Galaxy have been a bit shakier, dropping a 2-0 decision to New York at home last weekend and earning a 3-3-1 record in the previous seven games. That being said, the Galaxy have always been a thorn in Chivas USA’s side and have the firepower this season to continue that trend on Sunday.

The Galaxy engine is driven by US national team standout Donovan. The 28-year-old superstar leads MLS in the assists category with 14 and has found a true target in MLS leading goal-scorer and USMNT teammate Edson Buddle.

Buddle has come out of his shell this year, notching 14 goals so far in 2010 and showing true class in front of the net. And with Beckham now back to his old habit of serving perfectly lofted balls in from the flank, the LA striker is primed to continue his rampant scoring as the Galaxy challenge for the MLS Cup.

Heroes and Villains

Paulo Nagamura vs. Landon Donovan: For Goats midfielder Paulo Nagamura, Sunday’s SuperClásico presents an objective that’s easy to define but difficult to achieve; shut down Donovan.

Nagamura and Donovan are no strangers to each other; the two played together with the Galaxy in 2005 and 2006, with the pair hoisting both the US Open Cup and the MLS Cup in ’05. On Sunday, they will do battle in the center of The Home Depot Center pitch for control of the midfield. If Nagamura comes out on top, Chivas USA might have a chance at a surprise upset of their in-stadium rivals. But if Donovan can assert his will, it’s going to be a long night for the Red-and-White defense.

Stat that makes you go "Hmm…"

It’s been 36 months since Chivas USA have beaten the LA Galaxy. The Goats’ last victory came on Sept. 13, 2007.

Keys to the Game

Chivas USA

    - Keep Landon Donovan’s influence to a minimum
    - Tighten up defense on set pieces

Los Angeles

    - Exploit Chivas’ aerial weakness with high crosses
    - Feed Edson Buddle early and often

Injuries

Chivas USA

OUT: GK Dan Kennedy (L bicep surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Darío Delgado (R foot contusion); PROBABLE: MF Blair Gavin (L hamstring strain), FW Giancarlo Maldonado (R hamstring strain)

Los Angeles

QUESTIONABLE: DF Gregg Berhalter (neck strain); MF Dema Kovalenko (R adductor strain)

Related
Top 3 matches of the SuperClásico
Training Update: Center Backs to Return?
Commentary: Is SuperClásico a real rivalry?
Training Update: Hot Hot Heat

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