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Chivas USA vs Los Angeles Galaxy: Preview

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Carson, CA - March 8, 2014: Stefan Ishizaki (#24) of the Los Angeles Galaxy fires a shot toward goal in the Los Angeles Galaxy v. Real Salt Lake match at the StubHub Center (Photo: Shaun Clark).
Carson, CA - March 8, 2014: Stefan Ishizaki (#24) of the Los Angeles Galaxy fires a shot toward goal in the Los Angeles Galaxy v. Real Salt Lake match at the StubHub Center (Photo: Shaun Clark).

Two Los Angeles-based clubs will meet for the first time this season at the Stub Hub Center as the home side Chivas USA (1-1-2) take on the historically successful LA Galaxy (0-1-1). It also marks the possible end of the rivalry since Chivas USA are still looking for new owners and will be rebranded in the 2015 season.

This will be the first of the last matches of the SuperClasico. Yet, the SuperClasico hardly qualifies as a rivalry since the Galaxy holds an 18-6-4 advantage over Chivas USA.

Sunday’s derby does not beckon to be the statement match for bragging rights to the city, however, it still figures to be a significant one. After finishing dead last in the 2013 season, Chivas USA has shown signs of rebounding under new manager Wilmer Cabrera after stealing a point from the New York Red Bulls on the road and opening the season with a 1-1-2 record.

The Los Angeles Galaxy on the other hand has struggled to find their footing, getting dominated by Club Tijuana in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal and remaining winless in the MLS. They currently stand with a 0-1-1 record. Chivas USA looks to prove that their surprise start is not a fluke by putting away their struggling neighbors while the Galaxy are out for the first win of the season.

The Goats in Rhythm

If the first half against New York indicated anything, it’s that the Goats are starting to learn how to establish their rhythm through the midfield. The club underwent a transformation, inserting a new leader in Carlos Bocanegra in their backline and enforcing their midfield with the likes of Agustin Pelletieri and the wily Mauro Rosales.

The midfield is still learning how to develop cohesiveness as a unit in order to efficiently feed their currently hot forward, Erick “Cubo” Torres, and a lot of it starts with Pelletieri breaking up incoming attacks at ease and giving Rosales and Leandro Barrera freedom to operate at the wings. Torres is on a streak, scoring in the last four games, and doesn’t look to slow down. If only his teammates find a creative way to distribute the ball to his feet.

Lost in Space

The LA Galaxy have not been productive. Steve Ishizaki has not proven to be the answer to the club’s weakness in the right side of the midfield and their fullbacks have failed to make a significant contribution. Given James Riley’s injury, the Galacticos’ flanks is getting thin. Center back Omar Gonzalez has shown his tendency to watch the ball too often in the U.S. friendly against Mexico this past Wednesday. Galaxy fans should be concerned since Chivas USA’s Torres is a player no one should sleep on.

During the friendly Mexico, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann kept Landon Donovan on the bench until the second half, citing that the L.A. star has looked “flat-footed” during training. Donovan flashed some good runs in the second half of that match, but did not make a significant impact. Chances are he won’t be starting due to short rest, limiting the team’s options in creating opportunities for forward Robbie Keane to score.  

Prediction

Chivas USA 2: Los Angeles Galaxy 1

Casual fans of the MLS would be shocked at this result, but for those paying attention to the two clubs, this result shouldn’t come as a surprise. Chivas USA has been looking like a team that could be solid once they play with cohesiveness while the Galaxy has not been as impressive despite good performances by Robbie Keane.