Three Points: LA Galaxy hope to move closer to playoff berth with SuperClasico victory
CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to the SuperClasico between LA and Chivas USA. The Galaxy currently lead the series between the two clubs with a 1-0-1 record and need just a draw to win the season series for the sixth straight year.
TIME TO SHOW A LITTLE DESIRE
Following the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers a week ago, the team’s lack of “desire” when defending set pieces was a major talking point, so where better for LA to rediscover that drive than in a match against their in-stadium rivals, Chivas USA.
No matter where the two clubs are positioned in the Western Conference table, the SuperClasico rarely lacks intensity and Sunday’s match will be no different as the Rojiblancos enter the match knowing full well that a victory would put LA’s postseason aspirations on life support. Due to its massive playoff implications, the match promises to be a physical contest as the Galaxy seek to control the run of play from opening whistle. However, this energetic approach must be taken with care as both of LA’s starting midfielders Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas will be suspended with their next yellow card.
As for set pieces? Even though LA have conceded 13 goals from set pieces this season, they’ll be facing a Chivas side that has scored just once from dead ball opportunities this year. Although the stats may show that the Rojiblancos aren’t much of a threat on set plays, the Galaxy must be able to show the desire necessary to make the type of defensive stops that have eluded them this season.
STOPPING “EL CUBO” TORRES
Chivas USA may sit at the bottom of the Western Conference, but the Rojiblancos boast one of the league’s brightest young attacking talents in Erick “El Cubo” Torres, who will be seeking to give the Galaxy defense fits on Sunday.
Since joining the team in July on loan from sister club Chivas de Guadalajara, Torres has tallied an impressive seven goals in 12 games—all of which came in his first nine matches— and has quickly emerged as the focal point in the Chivas offense. Despite being deployed chiefly as a lone striker in head coach Jose Luis Real’s formation, the 20-year-old Torres has developed a penchant for sneaking behind opposing defenses with a proficiency that has drawn comparisons between himself and MLS Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski.
Keeping Torres from finding the back of the net will depend on the Galaxy defense’s ability to limit his service when possible while remaining cognizant of his positioning come Sunday. Torres has been held scoreless in his last three games due to opposing defenses ability to stay physical with the young forward and then prevent midfielders Bryan De La Fuente and Eric Avila from finding him in dangerous spots behind the back four. If LA are able to follow this tactic, they should be able to keep the forward from testing goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
ADDED SHARPNESS SHOULD BENEFIT KEANE AND DONOVAN
A lack of sharpness from Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan in the final third proved decisive in the LA Galaxy’s defeat to the Portland Timbers a week ago, but with both players healthy for the SuperClasico more attacking punch will be expected.
In the defeat to the Timbers, the attacking connections between the two seemed uncharacteristically frayed as they repeatedly failed to combine effectively in the final third. The Galaxy will be hoping that this is not the case on Sunday however, as the pair has been able to train throughout the week with Donovan has completely recovered from the left ankle sprain that plagued him for much of September. The pair will need to be on their game from the outset in the SuperClasico as even though Chivas USA has conceded 55 goals—a mark that ties them with D.C. United for the league high—their defense has become vastly more organized since the acquisition of center back Carlos Bocanegra.
On Sunday, Chivas will likely seek to follow Portland’s game plan of a week ago by dropping substantial numbers into the penalty area and limiting LA’s ability to find their two dangerous forwards. If LA are to find a way to pressure Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, they’ll need Donovan and Keane to draw the Rojiblancos’ defenders out of position and capitalize on any space provided.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com