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The Final SuperClasico Match Could Define Chivas USA's Season

July 21, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chivas have a lot on the line Sunday.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
July 21, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chivas have a lot on the line Sunday. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Happy SuperClasico week! Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy will tee off Sunday in the rubber match of the 2012 SuperClasico. With each team notching a win in the previous two match-ups this season, bragging rights for Los Angeles in 2012 are on the line. More than that, however, are the larger implications of this meeting on the season for Chivas USA in particular. Put simply, the upcoming SuperClasico match could very well define Chivas' season.

When Chivas defeated the Galaxy 1-0 May 19, the Galaxy team that had completely dominated the all-time series was gone, replaced by a team that lacked energy, a team ethic, and much attacking intent. Getting that win in May did wonders for Chivas' season to that point, as they beat their biggest rivals for the first time in five years and provided a boost in a season full of ups and downs. Coming the same week as the arrivals of Danny Califf and Juan Agudelo, it seemed the win provided the turning over of a new leaf in the season and perhaps the history of the club.

But after a terrific two-month stretch for the rojiblanco, Chivas were totally blown out in the second match July 21. The mistakes that held the Galaxy back in the first meeting were gone, and what's worse, Chivas played a terrible match, save for about 15 minutes early in the second half when the game already appeared to be out of hand. The 3-1 loss was a gut check to the team, and a fearful reminder of the tenor of the rivalry for most of Chivas' history. If Chivas had played a hard-fought match, and come up short, it would have still been difficult, but rolling over on the Galaxy was a painful reminder of too many losses the last few years.

Besides the U.S. Open Cup semifinal, which was certainly the biggest game of 2012 for Chivas so far, this third SuperClasico should be considered Chivas' second-most important game of the year to this point. The stats are clear: Chivas are in 6th place currently, the Galaxy in 5th. Chivas are behind the Galaxy by seven points, so the gap for the final playoff spot seems quite large, but Chivas have four games in hand. So in addition to having four chances to make up the seven point gap, the final SuperClasico is essential not only for the local bragging rights, but also to bolster or further harm Chivas' playoff hopes. If Chivas win Sunday's match, then the deficit is cut to four points with four games to make up.

As a result, if Chivas can win Sunday, they'll get the good mojo of winning the battle of LA but also give their playoff hopes a major boost. If they win, then one would expect they would have the momentum to be able to get at least four points in four games (and hopefully it would be more). But if they don't win, their playoff hopes will take a major hit. If the Galaxy win, they'll lead Chivas by 10 points, and Chivas would need to get three wins and a draw in the four games in hand just to stay level with the Galaxy. Needless to say, that would be a big hole for the Goats. If the teams split the points with a draw, the deficit would remain the same at seven points.

By no means are Chivas in the playoffs with a win over the Galaxy, or out of the playoffs with a loss. They have work to do over the remaining 14 games, and no single game at the two-thirds point of the season is going to make or break their chances. Still, it can't be denied that the SuperClasico holds even more importance than it normally does, and it will be up to Chivas to show the league they belong with the playoff-bound teams.

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