It was a magical evening.
No matter what, Aug. 23, 2007 was going to be memorable. David Beckham, still very much captivating attention around the league and globe, was set to play Chivas USA for the first time. Broadcast for a national television audience, the second Chivas USA-LA Galaxy encounter of that year was propped on the stage and given the spotlight it deserved.
Things could not have gone better that night, but things could not have gotten much worse shortly after.
Chivas USA's memorable 3-0 thrashing of a Beckham-led Galaxy squad in the summer of 2007 was the high point of this franchise.
Of course, it was not supposed to have been that way. In fact, it should have been the turning point. The scales should have tipped over towards the Red-and-White side of the Home Depot Center (now StubHub Center). Fortune smiled on Chivas that night and it should have continued smiling on the club for some time after.
And it did, sort of. Chivas USA won the following meeting by the same scoreline and claimed the season series, the only time in the eight-year history of the series that Chivas have claimed the trophy.
After that triumph in September, though, Chivas would have to wait five years for another victory, and heading into Sunday's edition of the SuperClasico Chivas will be looking for just their fifth win all-time against the Galaxy.
Nearly everything in this rivalry has gone from bad to worse for Chivas since then, but everything clicked back in August 2007. Chivas brought a strong but still underrated side into the encounter. Led by scoring sensation Maykel Galindo and veteran striker Ante Razov, who had also re-discovered his scoring touch, Chivas had the advantage.
The Galaxy meanwhile had the spotlight to themselves that summer. Beckham's arrival some five weeks prior had set off a fervor across the league, and the Englishman was equal parts soccer star and sideshow then. The day before the match, Beckham was in England playing in a friendly against Germany, and now he was set to face the lesser-regarded neighbors.
Chivas were not fazed, though. The club came out strong and threatened the Galaxy goal early but nothing came of it.
Late in the first half, one of the top moments in this series' history happened. Chivas' Jesse Marsch lunged at Beckham and caught his upper thigh with his boot as Beckham darted by. Beckham took a tumble but rage forced him upright and soon after he was in Marsch's face.
A scrum ensued and two players wound up with red cards - Galaxy hockey-goon-turned-soccer-player Kevin Harmse as well as Chivas' Alex Zotinca.
With 10 men apiece, the match opened up in the second half and Galindo capitalized - twice. Francisco "Panchito" Mendoza added a third and Chivas handed Beckham a loss in his first Super Clasico.
Gone were the days of 2005, when Chivas were sent out to slaughter five times against the Galaxy. Gone too was the excuse about Chivas' first-ever win over the Galaxy, in June 2006 against a depleted Galaxy squad. This was a full-strength Galaxy side, with Landon Donovan on the field as well, albeit for just the final 31 minutes.
The 2007 team was destined for greatness. Not only did they demolish the Galaxy but the team went on to win the Western Conference title. Injuries robbed Chivas of both Galindo and Razov down the stretch and in the playoffs and Chivas whimpered out of the postseason with a 1-0 aggregate loss to Kansas City.
Chivas suffered through difficult losses to the Galaxy in 2008 and 2009, highlighted by the most disastrous fate of all when Chivas were eliminated from the MLS Cup playoffs by the Galaxy.
Preki left the club after the '09 campaign and both Martin Vasquez and Robin Fraser struggled against the Galaxy. Fraser picked up a win against the Galaxy but his last game in the Clasico was a 4-0 Galaxy rout.
Jose Luis "Chelis" Sanchez Sola had an exciting match against the Galaxy in March, watching his team overcome a late deficit to pull out a draw, but that momentum is long gone as Chelis was sacked.
For Chivas, nothing in this series has ever come close to matching the magic that the August 2007 triumph yielded, and with the club's current sad state, hopes for another night of enchantment are gone.
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