Chivas USA are set to face off against their local rivals, the LA Galaxy, Sunday afternoon (12 pm PT, UniMas/Time Warner Sports). The Galaxy have played the fewest league games of any team in the league so far, just two, and are coming off their second bye, while Chivas have played weekly since the start of the season, their latest result being the ultimately disappointing 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls last weekend.
But this is a rivalry match. Sure, the Galaxy have the series lead by a long shot on the Goats, but one never knows just what may happen in those games. And Chivas have shown well in the first meeting the last two years.
Now, let's get ready with the preview!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 5 points (1-1-2), 5th place in Western Conference, 10th place overall; Goal Difference: -1 (6/7); Last four matches: D-L-D-W
LA Galaxy: 1 point (0-1-1), 8th place in Western Conference, 16th place overall; Goal Difference: -1 (1/2); Last two matches: D-L
Chivas defense corner
This week, more injuries will impact the Goats' defense. Not only is Oswaldo Minda out another week, which means Chivas are missing their midfield destroyer, but Bobby Burling remains sidelined and Tony Lochhead is out after injuring his hamstring last week. Now, Eriq Zavaleta bounced back with a solid game at center back in his second start last week, and while Burling started well, I never would have called him an elite MLS defender anyway. The same concerns exist for Lochhead. He has vast experience, but is he really any great shakes? He's played solid so far, really, so maybe he's better than many gave him credit for when Chivas signed him.
On one hand, the inexperience with converted right back Eric Avila, presumably Zavaleta, and likely Donny Toia all on the backline against the Galaxy has to be concerning. It seems like the kind of situation that can be exploited at will, especially with the Galaxy's many attacking weapons. Frankly, this could be the game in which the entire house of cards that is Chivas' defense collapses, and doing that against the Galaxy would be exponentially more embarrassing. That said, the defense has been solid so far this season, and they learned from the poor outing against FC Dallas to play well enough to get a result against the Red Bulls. It's not assured that they can't continue to play credibly, and continue to show folks like myself that they are better than we think.
Still, I'll leave you with this: Landon Donovan tied the all-time MLS scoring mark last season against Chivas. He hasn't scored since. Do you really want him to break the record against our Goats? I guess if Chivas win, then I won't be as concerned if he breaks the record in this game, but please, let's really try to avoid having Donovan break the record against Chivas, too.
Why Chivas will win this match: They have belief in themselves, confidence that they can get the job done, and enough players who were not party to the Clasico massacres in the past that it won't be automatically scarring for them. And they simply don't have much to lose at this point in going out for a result. On top of that, the Galaxy could still be somewhat rusty in getting into the swing of the season (though to be fair, they've played the same number of competitive games as Chivas), and there are considerable concerns on their defense, with A.J. DeLaGarza out for another week, and Dan Gargan set to get his first start since joining the club. Plus, Omar Gonzalez had a poor outing for the U.S. Men's National Team against Mexico midweek, and it seems he may have a crisis of confidence at the moment. The conditions are certainly there, especially if Chivas play at their best, and the Galaxy do not, as has happened the last two years.
Why the Galaxy will win this match: They still have more talent overall on the field than Chivas, though the gap appears to have narrowed. They no longer have Mr. Liability, Carlo Cudicini, at goalkeeper, so even if Chivas send a crappy shot on target, it's not as assured it will go in. They haven't gotten a win yet in MLS play, so they'll probably be looking forward to getting a W against Chivas. And of course, the history of El Clasico Angelino speaks for itself -- the Galaxy have all-out dominated the series. Frankly, it's up to Chivas to level the account, and they can only do that one game at a time.
Why this game will end in a draw: In derbies, draws are always a strong possibility, especially if there are red cards, and there have been red cards in this fixture. The early season, the motivation by Chivas, a possible lack of motivation and/or rustiness by the Galaxy, and there could be an equilibrium between the sides. I'm not really feeling a draw here, but it is still pretty likely.
Chivas: Oswaldo Minda (hamstring), Bobby Burling (shoulder), Tony Lochhead (hamstring)
Galaxy: James Riley (knee), A.J. DeLaGarza (ankle), Robbie Rogers (ankle - listed as questionable), Gyasi Zardes (knee - listed as questionable), Landon Donovan (knee - expected to play)
What do you think? Leave a comment below!