Chivas USA are set to play once again at home this weekend, as they "host" the LA Galaxy in the first chapter of the 2014 El Clasico Angelino. With both sides eager to get points against their local adversary, I thought it was time to welcome back Josie Becker, of SB Nation Galaxy blog LAG Confidential, to answer my questions about the other team down the hall. Big thanks to Josie for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks LAG Confidential:
1. The Galaxy return most of their team from last year, but there are some new faces. Who are some of the notable additions, and how have they fit in so far?
The buzz word this offseason was target forward, and it has everything to do with LA's shape. Replacing David Beckham's influence has been an ongoing project, and the way in which the Galaxy were beaten last season was by teams going narrow. No one stepped up to deliver crosses like he could, and even then there was no target outside of Omar Gonzalez on corners and he was shut down about midway through.
The new additions Samuel and Rob Friend are there to make teams rethink allowing crosses to come in uncontested, and the book is still being written on how they will ultimately fit in. Friend earned a penalty in the season opener with teams needing to keep hands on him in the penalty area (that combined with an ability to gracefully fall down). Samuel is greatly skilled on the ball, and he's shown that poacher ability that goes well toward padding goal totals. The biggest test is going to be how they mix with Robbie Keane, and neither forward has shown themselves better there.
2. It seems there's been concerns about the Galaxy's defense to start the year. Is that the case, or is there a sense that the perceived shakiness is overblown?
Since I've been blogging about the club the only major losses to the back line are Gregg Berhalter and now Sean Franklin. The former was easily replaced by A.J. DeLaGarza, but last season Arena started to get experimental with Franklin's cost rapidly rising and the team in need of a midfielder. There's been a revolving door of center backs trying to allow DeLaGarza to move to right back since the beginning of last season, and none of them have been permanent.
Leonardo is prone to high profile mental mistakes. He challenges when he should stay back, without a defender behind him to mop up the mess when he fails to win the battle. Against Tijuana is was awful, he was directly responsible for the early goals that LA was never able to overcome.
What gets a lot of fans upset is that every time the club gets Gonzalez and DeLaGarza back together, the brass brags about the great record in limiting goals when they're next to each other. And yet, Arena has spent the better part of a year trying to break them up. It's like they're that couple in college that have been dating since high school, and they're at the party with that guy who believes in his bones everyone must experiment in college.
Then just when things looked like they might be getting back to normal, James Riley is out for six months. That can be the study abroad year in the metaphor.
3. Ok, so I've been asked many times about the Chivas USA ownership situation, but I'd like to turn the tables. What's the scuttlebutt from the Galaxy perspective on the league takeover of CUSA and the planned sale and rebrand of the club, on various levels (organization, players, fans)?
Hah, get used to it. I still expect to be asked about Beckham this year (and I've volunteered his name twice now so poo on me). Anyhow, you know how the Galaxy ambassadors tend to downplay the rivalry with Chivas. That's all for us reporters, and for them it's just another match against a team which happens to have their logo on a few doors.
There's also the strong contingent of Galaxy fans that see the club formerly known as Chivas as a blemish, that they should just be moved already so everyone can get on with their lives. So that side certainly believes things haven't gone far enough.
Certainly Don Garber doesn't feel that way, as he specifically mentioned the importance of Chivas being to give the Galaxy a rival. Which, can't feel that great as Chivas fans. Existing to be a foil for LA, what is Chivas, a female character in an action movie?
4. (Bonus) Prediction for this match?
Both teams have noted defensive difficulties, but I think in league play LA's attack will prove too much to counter. LA 3 - Chivas 1
What do you think? Leave a comment below!