CARSON, Calif. – There is no underestimating the importance of Sunday’s third and final edition of the SuperClasico between the Galaxy and Chivas USA (8 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, AM 1150, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT).
Not only will the Galaxy win the yearly SuperClasico title for the fifth straight season, but more importantly, the MLS postseason implications are numerous. The Galaxy (10-11-3, 33 points) own the fifth and final playoff spot in the West and trail fourth place Vancouver by only one point and third place Seattle by four. But, more importantly, the Galaxy are just seven points ahead of Chivas (7-8-5), although their co-tenants at The Home Depot Center have played four fewer games.
There’s another reason why Sunday’s game is so important for the defending MLS Cup champions. The Galaxy are coming off an unsettling 4-0 loss to Seattle and would like nothing better than a solid performance this weekend to erase the pain of that loss.
“You want to come back strong from a game like that, and we certainly feel like we need to have a good performance to turn things back in the right direction,” said veteran left back Todd Dunivant, who has missed the last five games (including two friendlies) with a hematoma in his right calf but could return to the starting lineup against Chivas. “They’d been going so well since that extended break we had, and we want to continue that.”
The Galaxy’s Robbie Keane, tied for the team lead in goals scored with Landon Donovan at nine, couldn’t agree more.
“It’s always important to bounce back when you get a bad defeat, which obviously we did last week,” he said after training Friday. “It’s always good to bounce back against your rival.
“It’s a game I know the lads are looking forward to getting back on the field and eradicate the mistakes and the way we played last week.”
Sunday’s game marks the third time the teams have played this season.
Chivas won the first meeting, 1-0, on May 19 thanks to Jose Erik Correa’s penalty kick in the 71st minute. The Galaxy, however, took the rematch 3-1 on July 21 and lead the all-time regular season series between the teams 15-4-5.
Chivas continues to be a club that is offensively challenged, to say the least, and has scored the fewest goals in MLS, 14. But the Goats also are tied for first in fewest goals allowed, 21, with Sporting Kansas City and Columbus.
The Galaxy’s David Beckham is expected to miss Sunday’s game because of his involvement in Sunday’s closing ceremonies of the London Olympics, but Keane and the Galaxy are confident that they can get a result that strengthens the club’s standing in the Western Conference.
Keane has said he does not look at the league table, but he has a good idea where the Galaxy stands regarding playoff positioning.
“It’s important to increase that gap [between us and Chivas USA],” he said. “If we get a couple of results, make a stand and know we’re in the playoffs, who knows what can happen?
“We want to finish as high as possible, and that starts on Sunday against Chivas.”