Three Points: Galaxy ready for the 'Battle for The HDC'

LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano gives his Three Points to Sunday’s SuperClasico

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano offers his Three Points to the first SuperClasico of 2013 as the LA Galaxy prepare to take on Chivas USA on Sunday afternoon at The Home Depot Center…

SET THE TEMPO               

The 26th edition of the SuperClasico pits a clash of styles as the speedy and possession-oriented LA Galaxy face off against a rebuilt Chivas USA side built on counterattacks and defensive tenacity.

During their 3-1 victory over FC Dallas, Chivas were at their best in the second half when they were able to set the tempo of the game with their relentless defensive pressure. Led by midfield bruiser Oswaldo Minda and his physical play, the Rojiblancos were able to force turnovers in midfield and spark counter attacks that led to scoring chances for the likes of Giovanni Casillas and Juan Agudelo.  However, during the first half of their match against Dallas and their opening defeat to the Columbus Crew, it was Chivas USA who was put on the back foot as their opponents controlled possession and stymied their counter attack. As Chivas looks to punish the Galaxy physically, it’ll be important for LA to match the Rojiblancos’ intensity with plenty of their own.

 Expect the likes of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas to set the tone early by challenging Minda and his midfield partner Edgar Mejia in an effort to frustrate Chivas and throw them into a defensive posture.

EXPLOIT THE GAPS

Call it a 3-5-2 or a 4-4-2, but one thing that has been prevalent through Chivas USA’s first two matches is the space created by their fluctuating formation. As the LA Galaxy look to earn a third straight win over their cross-hall rivals, exploiting this space will be vital.

Throughout their first two matches, Chivas has deployed a three-man backline anchored by 37-year-old Joaquin Velasquez while others such as Bobby Burling, Eric Avila, and Mario De Luna move between defense and midfield. This movement along the backline was exploited several times during their opening matches against the Columbus and FC Dallas, and will likely be a target of a Galaxy attack built on interchange in the attacking third.

 When facing this formation, it will be important for the Galaxy flank players to spread Chivas out on the wide field at The Home Depot Center. With the Chivas defense spread out, it allows the likes of Robbie Keane and Jose Villarreal exploit gaps and find scoring opportunities. If the Galaxy can find the space behind the Chivas defense and create pressure on goalkeeper Dan Kennedy then expect LA to make the Rojiblancos pay. 

POSSIBLE LINEUP CHANGES?

The SuperClasico may be the battle for bragging rights at The HDC, but as the Galaxy prepare for their fourth game in 15 days, LA head coach Bruce Arena may opt to make a few changes to his squad.

Nine players have appeared in all three games so far across league and CCL, which could lead to changes for Arena. One player that looks likely to slide into the starting XI is midfielder Colin Clark, who was ineligible for the CCL quarterfinal, but enjoyed a strong game in the MLS regular season opener against the Chicago Fire. Clark’s speed could be particularly useful against Chivas as the Rojiblancos have struggled against speedy players so far this season.  Clark is not the only option as forward Jack McBean continues to contend for minutes after scoring an impressive goal in Wednesday’s win over Herediano.

However, even  if Arena does roll out the same squad that defeated the Costa Ricans midweek, expect minutes for key contributors to be limited if the result is no longer in doubt.

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com