CARSON, Calif.-- It doesn't matter what level they play in, when the LA Galaxy squares off against Chivas USA one thing is always certain: The games are intense.
That was certainly the case again Saturday when the LA Galaxy U-18 and Chivas USA U-18 Academy teams played to a 1-1 draw at The Home Depot Center. With first place in the SoCal Division at stake, Chivas USA came out strong in the first half and went up early, but forward Mario Rodriguez scored the equalizer just before halftime in the 45th minute to keep the Galaxy (10-1-3 overall, 5-1-1 SoCal Division; Second place) within one point of their rival in the standings, with a game in hand.
"It was a certainly a tale of two halves," said Galaxy U-18 Head Coach Eddie Soto.
Chivas USA (10-3-2 overall, 5-1-2 SoCal Division; First place) began putting pressure very early in the game, even drawing a penalty at about the 10th minute. However, Galaxy goalkeeper Juan Cervantes made a terrific diving save on the PK attempt to keep the score 0-0.
Cervantes was unable to get his hands on the ball a few minutes later when Chivas went up 1-0 in the 20th minute. A couple of quick passes, which began when the Galaxy turned the ball over on the defensive end, led to a one-on-one situation between the attacker and the goalkeeper.
But just went it looked like the Galaxy were going to head into halftime trailing one goal, defender Oscar Sorto, playing wide up the field, sent in a cross that found Rodriguez perfectly inside the box. Rodriguez, who had made a good run to the far post, beat the keeper using his left foot with a one-timer at the 45th minute.
Rodriguez, who is tied with the team lead in scoring with four goals, had a great game, was very active around the goal and came close to scoring numerous times in the second half.
"Mario had a good week of practice," Soto said of Rodriguez. "He made good runs and got himself into position to score a couple of times. I'm not surprised he had a good game."
In the second half, the Galaxy had the majority of the possession and more scoring opportunities. Chivas did have one cracker of a chance near the 50th minute, but Cervantes once again rose to the occasion to stone wall the Red-and-Whites and keep the game even.
The two clubs also played to a 1-1 draw at the U-16 level on Saturday. Forward Kevin Labastida scored the club's loan goal. The Galaxy are now and 4-1-2 in the SoCal Division, five points behind first-place Real Sale Lake-Arizona.
Next week, the Galaxy host Pateadores at The Home Depot Center on Field 5. The U-18's play first game at 10 a.m., while the U-16's will kickoff at noon.
LA - Drew Murphy (30')
CHV - 39 (51')
LA Galaxy U-18: Juan Cervantes; Nathan Smith, Javan Torre (Christopher Antunez, 46'), Jeffery Payeras, Oscar Sorto; Sebastian Velasquez, Grady Howe, Drew Murphy, Jaime Villareal; William Raygoza, Mario Rodriguez (Abel Leon, 90').
Chivas USA U-18: Jake McGuire; Julio Chavez, Brendan Hines-Ike, Stephen Copley, Joel Martinez; Marco Delgado, Eduardo Quezada, Rene Santos, Eric Gonzalez; Mark Verso, Jose Dheming