Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Week 4: Galaxy vs. Chivas USA [The Los Angeles Derby]

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chivas USA
Saturday, April 11th, 2008 – 7:30pm
Victoria Street
TV: Deportes, ESPN2

Quick Hits

Los Angeles Galaxy
Conference Position: 6th (-2)
League Position: 12th (-2)
Form: D-L
Last Match: 2-3 vs. Colorado
Next Match: at San Jose Earthquakes (Oakland Coliseum)

Chivas USA
2008 Conference Position: 1st
2008 League Position: 2nd
Form: W-W-W
Last Match: 2-1 vs. Columbus Crew
Next Match: vs. Seattle Sounders FC (Home Depot Center)

Last Meeting: 08/14/08 – Chivas USA 2-2 LA Galaxy (Home Depot Center)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…

If Charles Dickens will forgive me, the first edition of the 2009 LA Derby is nothing if not a “Tale of Two Cities.” Galaxy has started out the season slowly, and is haunted by the ghost of three playoffs past. Meanwhile, Chivas USA is enjoying the best start of their existence. For one side, the Battle of Los Angeles represents an opportunity to provide an early boost to a strong start and reach four games without knowing defeat, for the other, a chance to shake off early pressures and inject a hurting team with a much needed surge of energy.

2009 LA Derby v. 1.0

For Galaxy fans, the derby could not have come at a worse time in the season. The team, still hurting from the last three years, has started off the season on the wrong foot: Two home games, a bye week, and a single point to show for their efforts. On top of that, the same first in scoring, last in defending, recipe for disaster from last year seems to be the standard operating procedure in Los Angeles.

On the other hand, Chivas USA has stumbled out of the gate but in the right direction. The goats have not looked particularly impressive, they do not look strong, and despite many still hesitant to throw them to the top of the power rankings, they have managed three consecutive 2-1 victories.

Even so, Galaxy has had Chivas USA’s number since the expansion team first showed up in 2005. The all-time record for this match is heavily tilted in favor of the MLS Originals with 16 matches played in all competitions, 9 victories for LA, 4 draws, and only 3 wins for Chivas USA. Overall, 50 goals have been scored between the two sides, and Galaxy has outscored Chivas USA 31 to 19. And to top that all off, Galaxy has claimed three of the four Honda Superclasico trophies contested to date.

If Bruce is looking for a motivational speech to shake the rust and get the backfiring team finally running then there is perhaps no better way than with a victory in a full house (cross your fingers), against a local rival with a perfect record so far.

If the team should succeed against Chivas, the the team gets another chance at a motivational speech next week versus another Galaxy hated foe, the San Jose Earthquakes and Frank “Knackered” Yallop in Oakland Coliseum.

The Carniceros Club

In world football there are heroes to be found everywhere. There are players who score game-winners, players who lead leagues in scoring, players who save their sides from relegation and players who score beautiful and improbable goals. For fans however, some of the biggest heroes are the players than can constantly punish your biggest rival.

31 goals have been scored from the Galaxy camp versus Chivas USA in both MLS play and USOC play. The Carniceros Club – made up of all Galaxy players current, and former who have scored a goal against Chivas USA is currently made up of 12 members.

Of these twelve, half have scored only one goal against the goats, and the others have scored two or more. Only four of the twelve players are currently with the club. Only one player has scored on Chivas USA at least once in each of the 4 years of the rivalry.

A very honorable mention goes out to Cornell Glen and his two improbable goals as the clock died out to keep Galaxy’s then unbeaten streak vs. Chivas USA alive in 2006, however, because 5 is an easier number to work with than 6, here’s a look at the:

Carniceros Club Top 5

5th – Peter Vagenas (3 goals)

The former LA Captain managed two goals in 2005 and followed it up with another in 2006 to round off his tally.

4th – Cobi Jones (3 goals)
Not only did Cobi Jones score the first goal in Galaxy history, he also scored the first ever goal of the LA Derby for either side, 14 minutes into the first match. Jones scored again in 2005 and added his final goal against Chivas in 2007.

3rd – Herculez Gomez (4 goals)
Herc was a standout player for Galaxy in 2005 and a fan favorite for a reason. He notched 3 goals against Chivas that year, memorably running the length of the field and leaping into the arms of the Chiva girl laden Riot Squad to celebrate one of the goals. The next season, he added a fourth.

2nd – Alan Gordon (4 goals)
Flash had a career-high 5 goals in 2008. Three of those five came against Chivas USA. Twice early in the season to help wrap up a convincing 5-2 victory and once more at the final derby of the year to tie the game in stoppage time at 2 and give Galaxy its third Honda SuperClasico. Before that, Gordon had scored one other goal in 2006.

1st – Landon Donovan (9 goals)
It’s certainly no surprise that Donovan tops the Carniceros Club. Landon seems to see tints of green between the red and white stripes, and something about those three colors just make the Captain go! Landon has managed at least one goal against Chivas each season. He knocked in four in 2008, two in 2007, one in 2006 and two in 2005.

Not surprisingly, the “Mexicutioner” only started in one of the three games that Chivas has put in their win column. He was in Germany for the World Cup in the 1-2 defeat that was played just one day before the start of the tournament in 2006, and he played 69 minutes for the US a night before coming off the bench late for the Galaxy in a 0-3 loss in 2007.

Injury Report

OUT - Leonard Griffin (Sports Hernia Surgery)
QUESTIONABLE - Edson Buddle (Right Quad - Strain), Todd Dunivant (Right Ankle - Post Surgery), Mike Magee (Right Foot - Bruise), Donovan Ricketts (Right Groin - Strain)
PROBABLE - Eddie Lewis (Left Hamstring - Strain)

Caasi's Expected Starting XI for the Pre-season


Finally, if I may paraphrase Mr. Charles Dickens once more and complete the unfinished quote I used to open this preview:

…we were all going direct to heaven; they are all going direct the other way.

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