Saturday night's game between the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA was the second installment of what MLS calls the "SuperClasico" between Home Depot Center co-tenants LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. In May, the Galaxy dropped the "away" leg 1-0 and looked like a team in flux sinking to the bottom of the MLS Western Division standings. Oh how things have changed since that contest.
The Galaxy dominated this match start to finish. As we have seen the past several weeks, the LA Galaxy designated player trio of David Beckham, Robbie Keane, and Landon Donovan were on fire leading the way. The Galaxy opened the scoring when Beckham slid a world class through ball along the middle of the field to a streaking Keane who exploited the Chivas defense and scored, finishing with his patented goal celebration. Later in the half, Donovan fed Keane a similar ball with the same result, however a bogus off sides call eliminated the goal. The fact is that Keane and Donovan made the Chivas USA defense looks so bad on the play that the official probably assumed the only way he could find himself so open was if he was off sides, but he was not. You can bet the officials will go over that play this week.
In the second half Keane found a streaking Donovan who calmly deposited the ball past Chivas USA's keeper Dan Kennedy for a 2-0 lead. Chivas pulled one back as former Galaxy player Paulo Cordozo found the net to cut the lead to 2-1, but Donovan added a 3rd after a mad scramble in front of the goal to give LA a 3-1 lead that would stand.
The victory gives the Galaxy a 9-10-3 record. At 30 points they are one point back from third and fourth place Seattle and Vancouver and 13 back from first place San Jose. The Galaxy are now 6-2-1 since June.
MY THREE TAKEAWAYS
1. Moving Donovan up top with Keane has turned the LA Galaxy offense into a force. Beckham has contributed to their success because he is one of the best in the world at creating scoring opportunities for forwards, but once they receive the ball, Keane and Donovan are also exceptional at passing near the goal if they do not have an opportunity to score. Robbie Keane has an ability to finish that hasn't been seen very often in this league. He is making defenses and goal keepers look silly right now. With Donovan and Keane constantly near goal the opposition is nearly helpless. If these three can continue to play at this level and the defense can improve there is no reason to believe that this team cannot make a serious run in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
2. The Galaxy host Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday in a friendly. The match couldn't come at a worse time. LA is coming off a three game week and needs rest. It will be interesting to see how many starters play and how much time they get. In theory these matches should be a great way to promote the game, but they also put MLS is a tough position. If LA rests their starters, and they better, Tottenham will win and all of the MLS critics will point and laugh at the league. If LA plays to win they risk injury and could be sacrificing the game against FC Dallas next Saturday. You can chalk me up as someone who is not a fan of these games in their current structure. Oh yeah, the MLS All-Star game is the next day on the 25th and Beckham and Donovan are scheduled to play for the MLS All-Stars. There are simply too many meaningless games sandwiched in a critical part of the schedule.
3. The "SuperClasico" is hardly super or a clasico. In 23 head-to-head games the Galaxy are 15-4-5 against their "rival." You have to wonder how much longer Chivas USA can continue to operate under their current model. Chivas USA struggles to get any fans to attend their games at the Home Depot Center. This year they opted to tarp off the upper level as well as one end of the Home Depot Center. The team doesn't endear itself to LA. The team doesn't endear itself to Mexican soccer fans that don't like Chivas and Chivas Guadalajara fans don't like them because they are viewed as a step below the real deal. Do they think this will actually work? Do they even care?