By IVES GALARCEP
The stage was set for a blowout even before the opening whistle of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s showdown vs. Chivas USA on Sunday, but the Goats weren’t interested in playing to the anticipated script.
Facing the defending MLS Cup champions, the Goats made things tough for the Galaxy for much of the first half, and even after a questionable red card left Chivas USA with ten men, the Goats never gave in to the Galaxy’s high-octane attack.
When a Jack McBean header in the 83rd minute gave LA the lead, Chivas USA looked finished, but they shook off that goal and came right back with an 89th minute equalizer from rookie Carlos Alvarez to give the Goats a well-deserved point in the ‘Super Clasico’.
McBean gave Los Angeles the lead when he headed a deflected Mike Magee past the out-stretched hand of a diving Dan Kennedy, but rather than put the Goats away, the McBean goal seemed to inspire Chivas USA, which promptly went searching for the equalizer.
Eric Avila started the sequence by slipping a pass to Carlos Borja on the right flank. Borja quickly fired a pass toward the back-post, where Alvarez raced in behind A.J. De La Garza for the finish and his first professional goal.
“A lot of people probably thought that game was over once Galaxy scored,” said goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. “I was really proud of us last week when we came back from a goal down to score three and get a victory. This week I have that same exact feeling. We had everything against us, we were playing with ten men against the two-time defending champs, and we showed that we could still get on the board and make this match competitive.”
“I think it was a poor performance on our part today—bad game, a lot of fouls, a lot of time-wasting,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “Not well played on our part, obviously. A terrible effort in closing the game.”
Alvarez’s goal came on his professional debut. The No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft, Alvarez came on at halftime and
“Alvarez was a great college soccer player but the MLS’ level is different and he’s adjusting to it,” Chivas USA head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola said. “He keeps on making the effort day in and day out, but please, let’s talk about Alvarez, the human being, the young guy with big charisma, the guy who today, making his debut in the league, scored his first goal and nonetheless against the Galaxy.
“Alvarez, the individual who grew up loving this institution, in this city, and as I said, he scored in front of his family, friends, and followers. We, as an institution, should feel fortunate to have him.”
The thrilling finish was much different than the rest of the match, which was a physical, ugly and contentious affair. Chivas USA set out to disrupt the Galaxy’s high-flying attack, something the Galaxy didn’t deal with all that well. Even the man advantage couldn’t open things up for the Galaxy, who managed just three shots on goal despite the 50-minute man advantage.
How that man advantage came about was the subject of much conjecture after the match. Referee Ricardo Salazar issued a straight red card to Chivas USA defender Joaquin Velasquez for a seemingly harmless challenge on Galaxy midfielder Colin Clark (who looked no less guilty on the clash in question).
That decision led to some inflammatory comments from Sanchez Sola after the match, accusing the league of targeting Velasquez because MLS officials weren’t the ones who brought him to MLS:
“My player, Joaquin Velazquez, is not wanted by the league,” Sanchez Sola said in the post-match press conference. “From the start, the league hasn’t wanted him because the league didn’t bring him. Chivas USA brought him so the league stops intervening, and in the third game, he’s already a marked player because he’s not a league’s player. He’s not a player from New York, not a player sent by New York.”
Sanchez Sola spent a good amount of time talking about the preferential treatment he felt the Galaxy received on a day when Chivas USA was whistled for 22 fouls to the Galaxy’s eight.
“A human being has to conduct himself with respect and has to know how to respect others,” Sánchez Solá told reporters. “Our adversary was magnificent. They are by far the best team in the league and one of the best on this continent. I respect what they do, but they are New York’s team. They are the team of the (MLS) office.
“Those sort of teams exist in Spain with Real Madrid and Argentina with Boca Juniors. There is a team in every country. Galaxy is that team here.”
“Certainly, give them credit,” Arena said of Chivas USA. “They played real hard. They go in on every play. There was a lot of fouling. I wouldn’t even know what all the fouls would be, but he didn’t get all of them.
“They fouled us as much as they could. They got away with as much as they could, but that’s all a part of the game. That’s not surprising. Going into the game, their style of play—that’s what we anticipated. So there are no excuses on our part.”
Sanchez Sola didn’t exactly agree with Arena’s interpretation of Chivas USA’s approach to the match, and chose to praise his team for coming away from Sunday’s match with a draw.
“On the field, we won a point, but off the field we won a hundred points in respect,” said Sanchez Sola. “At this point, when we talk about respect, we are a team that deserves to be champion. Our rival is one of the best in the league; they have my admiration and respect for what they do.
“As for my players, as usual, they kept on fighting, made a great effort, and I would like for everybody to respect that effort,” Sanchez Sola said. “I would like for this institution to be respected as well, that is the way it should be. This institution deserves respect.”
Here are the match highlights: