Off-field tension turns into on the field battles during SuperClasico week
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy and Chivas USA run into each other on a daily basis while traversing the halls of The Home Depot Center. Usually those glances and conversations are by and large cordial, but during SuperClasico Week things change—drastically.
“There are no conversations this week. It’s just a nod and a hello,” said Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee. “If we’re playing another team, there might be conversations to see what’s going on, but this week, it is all business.”
Does this mean no trash talk between the two rivals?
“Nah, that’ll come out on the field,” says Magee.
When it comes to taking care of business on the field, it has generally been the Galaxy who have held serve over their cross-the-hall rivals as they hold a 16-4-5 advantage in the series since Chivas USA’s inception in 2005. But last season, Chivas earned their first win the series in five years with a 1-0 win on May 19, however, the next two matches were dominated by the Galaxy, who won 3-1 in July and then 4-0 a month later to win the SuperClasico title for the fifth straight year and the seventh time in eight years.
Although LA have controlled the rivalry as of late, once the SuperClasico rolls around, there is no love lost between the two rivals, particularly in the weight room.
“You tend to see them more,” said Magee of Chivas during the week of the SuperClasico. “They try to show their faces more and make their presence felt and we’re doing the same. There are battles over weight machines in the gym and who gets there first and things like that.”
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On Friday Chivas USA players uncharacteristically used the gym in the morning, making it difficult for some members of the Galaxy to get their usual pre-training workout. Defender Omar Gonzalez described the scene as “awkward.”
“They were in the gym for the first time I think and a lot of our guys couldn’t get in there,” said Gonzalez. “That was a little bit different and kind of awkward. But we’re just looking toward Sunday.”
Once the match begins and the race in the weight room turns into a race to a loose ball, expect the temperatures to rise, rather than fall. Under new manager José Luis Sánchez Solá, Chivas have been a far more aggressive club on the field due to the play of defensive midfielders Edgar Meija and Oswaldo Minda.
Currently, Chivas lead the league in foul committed with 38 and cautions with eight. Add this physicality with the already chippy nature of a rivalry game and Magee admits that the Galaxy must keep their focus heading into Sunday.
“They try to win the ball back right away and if we don’t lose it then they try to disrupt our play. They’re going to try to kick us and frustrate us and we’re going to do the same,” said Magee. “Collectively as a whole, as soon as they lose the ball they try to battle and win it back and soon as they can, if they don’t, they’re going to try and get a piece of you.”
For all the tension off-the-field and between the supporters, Galaxy captain Robbie Keane admits that for him, the true emotion won’t start until game day.
“Until the day it comes really, I don’t really read too much media and stuff like that. For me, it’s another game,” he said. “I’m sure when Sunday comes, you’ll see two sets of fans and it’ll feel like [a rivalry].”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com