It was a Sunday noon start for the third game of the LA Galaxy’s season. Even though the game was at the beautiful StubHub Center, this was an “away” game for the Galaxy as the home team was the Galaxy’s co-tenant at the StubHub Center, Chivas USA. Chivas USA was owned by the same owners of the Mexican club Chivas de Guadelajara, one of the most popular clubs in Liga MX. Major League Soccer hoped to tap into the wellspring of Mexican soccer fans with Chivas. Unfortunately, the club has been so badly mismanaged in the past few seasons that Chivas has essentially become a laughingstock in MLS.
Before the season started, MLS finally threw in the towel on this and bought back Chivas USA from its Mexican owners. The Commissioner of MLS has said that they will be searching for a new owner that will keep the team in the Los Angeles area and also commit to building a new stadium for the team. The team will be rebranded, so this will be the last year of Chivas USA in Major League Soccer.
Allegedly, this is a rivalry game for the Galaxy since the two teams share not only a home city, but also a stadium. But the all-time Galaxy record against Chivas is 18-6-4 (Remember that in soccer, draws go in the middle!). So, it is hard to view this as anything more than a little brother trying to keep up with his significantly more advanced older brother.
For me personally, the pre-game was a bit of a disappointment. I have been interested in taking some better pictures of the games than my camera would allow. I went to the local camera shop in Long Beach and ordered a “teleconverter”, that is a piece that goes over my camera’s lens to turn it into a telephoto lens. But since my camera is a few years old, it seems that there are no direct teleconverters that go right on my lens. So the camera shop had to order a converter to change the diameter of my lens to allow the teleconverter to fit. The parts finally arrived the day before the game and I was quite excited to take it to the game for a tryout.
When I got to the gate, the security people didn’t like how long the adapter and teleconverter made the camera and made me take the camera back to my car. Running late for the game at that point, I didn’t take the time to remove the items and return with my un-converted camera. As I made my way back into the stadium, I did see the sign that said “no cameras with lenses longer than 3 inches”. Now, my teleconverter is not three inches, but with the adapter attached to it, it does appear to be very long. Since that experiment failed before it started, you all are left with some quick shots from my iPhone.
Even though this was the fifth week of the MLS season, this was only the third game for the Galaxy. They have had a strange start to the season with their first two games both being against RSL. There was supposed to be a game against DC United between those, but that game was moved to allow the Galaxy the opportunity to focus completely on the Champions’ League quarterfinal series with Tijuana. After the second RSL game, there was another week off in the schedule. After this Chivas game, the Galaxy will play another team in two consecutive games – home and then away against the Vancouver Whitecaps – followed by yet another week off, before extending their road trip for three additional matches. The MLS needs some serious help from a good analytics person to straighten out their scheduling algorithm.
But in the meantime, there was the Goats of Chivas to deal with. Chivas has looked better this year, coming into this game with a 1-2-1 record and one of the hottest forwards in the game, Eric “Cubo” Torres, who had scored a goal in each of Chivas’s four games. The scuttlebutt among was that the Galaxy had to take this game seriously or Chivas could surprise them.
As for the Galaxy, the fans were really unsure of what this team was capable of having seen only the two matches against RSL and the two matches against Tijuana. Was this team, which on paper was one of the top squads in MLS, ready to take off?
That was answered pretty quickly. At high noon with the temperature well into the 80’s, the game kicked off. Chivas could not maintain any real possession of the ball. The Galaxy midfield – in their new diamond formation with Ishizaki up top, Sarvas and Husidic out wide and Juninho in the back – dominated the ball and kept Chivas from putting any pressure at all on the defensive back line.
In the 37th minute, Dan Gargan headed a ball into the box. Robbie Keane and Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy both went for the ball and arrived at about the same time. Keane was able to knock the ball away and over Kennedy into the net for the first goal of the game.
Just a while before halftime, Stefan Ishizaki got behind the defense and chipped the ball over a diving Kennedy from an extreme angle to double the Galaxy lead. After the game Ishizaki admitted that it was a bad first touch when receiving the pass that put him at such an awkward angle, but he showed his skill by getting the ball in the goal anyways.
The undoubted highlight of the game was the Galaxy’s third goal which came about after six consecutive completed passes from midfield into the penalty box. Landon Donovan received the penultimate pass. As the defense converged on him, he laid off the final pass to the top of the box, where Baggio Husidic one-timed a low laser shot under Kennedy for the third and final goal of the game.
How dominating was it? Total shots were 19-5 in favor of the Galaxy, with shots on target favoring the Galaxy 9-1. Yes, Chivas got only one shot to Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk.
Is this the Galaxy team we’ve been waiting for? It certainly seems possible. The team really needs to get some points before the World Cup call ups take away two of our best players for an extended period. In the meantime, we await the visit from our friends from Vancouver.