I love the smell of a rivalry in the air in Carson, California. Although there has not been much of one in recent years between the Galaxy and Chivas USA, if you follow MLS thoroughly you might sense some change.
That’s right, I said it.
Chivas USA is improving under the guidance of former Galaxy defenders Robin Fraser and Greg Vanney. Now the only question is, will the Goats recent form continue on Saturday night, and further translate into continued progress?
There is no doubt we will get a pretty firm answer at the end of this SuperClasico.
There’s always a different vibe the week of a derby match. Mine started out with a guest invite to the Front Office SuperClasico, matching the two team’s staffs on Monday night at The Home Depot Center. I graciously accepted, and was able to come off the bench for some touches in the midfield.
Both times I entered the game (once in each half), I replaced some guy named Chris Klein. I was told he is a former player that is now in charge of the Galaxy Academy. So, as you might assume, it was a straight swap for the central midfield, with no drop in the level of play!
I am getting off track, though. The final score was Galaxy 6, Chivas USA 2. Not sure if it will be any foreshadowing for Saturday, but maybe divide by two and you will be pretty close.
Later in the week I attended training to see LA knock the ball around, and more importantly watch three strikers spend an extra bit of time after the session on finishing. Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett and Adam Cristman each took turns burying the ball into the net before heading to the locker room. While Cristman is still getting back to full fitness, I can tell you that Angel and Barrett looked very sharp. Maybe those two can continue the momentum they built up in the 4-1 win vs. Sporting Kansas City last weekend.
For me, that was without question the best performance from Barrett in a Galaxy uniform. If you missed it, we named him our Player of the Game with two assists on the night, even though Landon Donovan recorded two goals during the FOX Sports West broadcast.
As for the game itself, I expect a tightly contested first half. Often in these derby atmospheres, neither team wants to give away too much in the beginning, leading to conservative play on both sides. You may see the game open up in the final 5-10 minutes of the first half, and that’s when LA will likely have their best chance to put one in before the break.
This would be a good bump in momentum for the Galaxy and I think this team might be beginning to understand momentum and its importance. I guess what I mean by that is, the Galaxy have been burned by giving up late goals enough this year and I hope/expect that will not happen much more going forward this year.
The second half of the game is when it will get really interesting. The play will open up more and both teams will be pushing harder. It comes with the territory that there will be some gritty tackles and a shoving match or two off the ball. This is where the Galaxy need to assert the “big brother” attitude and let their “little brother” know they still have a ways to go before they can play with the big boys.
Like I said, Chivas USA is a vastly improved team. But, the Galaxy have more talent in their squad and more experience without question. Will that mean another win in the SuperClasico? I know that like many of you, my eyes will be eagerly awaiting and watching to find out.
The Galaxy face Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on Saturday, May 21 at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2/Deportes. Fans that can't make it to the match can join other supporters at Galaxy viewing parties at ESPN Zone at LA Live or Bier Academy in Santa Clarita. MORE INFO