It might get a little more hype than it deserves, but the Los Angeles Galaxy-Chivas USA rivalry doesn’t lack for passion or intensity.
Thursday night’s game was a display that wasn’t always beautiful, but was certainly entertaining for the clear tension in the match. It wasn’t just first place on the line, the pride of both team’s fans was also on the line. When Edson Buddle slotted the late equalizer past Brad Guzan to force a 1-1 tie, it felt like a just result even if Chivas USA played better overall.
The match will likely be remembered as the last played by Brad Guzan in a Chivas USA uniform. The star goalkeeper had his transfer to Aston Villa completed on Friday and is ready to follow the trail paved by the likes of Brad Friedel and Tim Howard.
SBI correspondents Nathan Henderson-James and John Sandate were at Home Depot Center and shared their takes on the action with us.
Tinkering doesn’t help Galaxy find win
By NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES
Ah, a derby! Two city rivals bent on dominating each other, the results from the rest of the season mattering not a whit. Growing up on Tobacco Road as a Duke fan (we can argue about this later) it didn’t matter how the rest of the season went as long we beat Carolina. The excitement and energy of a derby is what makes it so special.
Which brings me to the Super Clasico played on Thursday night between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. Super Boring-o would have been a more accurate description. Super sloppy-in-the-midfield-no-possession-no-flow-what-formation-are-they-playing-oh-my-god-is-that-Pete-Vagenas-David-Beckham-in-the-middle-my-kingdom-for-an-attacking-sequence-o would have sufficed as well, though I see its limitations as a marketing slogan.
I’ve read at least two accounts of how this was an intense, hard-fought match, which must just point out my own futbol naiveté, because I thought the most interesting action I saw all night was the fight that broke out where the Riot Squad sits. The second most interesting thing was that I learned the guy with the chiseled features, 5 o’clock shadow, and frizzy hair who has been sitting in front of me all season is Justin Guarini, first season American Idol runner-up. How far removed from pop culture am I that he had to sing the national anthem before I got clued in?
Speaking of clueless, how about that Galaxy midfield? Last week Paul Gardner wrote a column about how the G’s were wasting Beckham’s talent out on the right and that he should be placed in the center of the field where he would have greater ability to influence the game. We, the SBI Mafia, even talked about this in the comments to last week’s piece. And, lo and behold, Ruud Gullit starts Becks in the middle. Little do we know our own power!
But, boy howdy, did that plan suck! I was pretty enthusiastic about it at first, actually, for all the reasons Gardner cited. But it turns out that (1) the G’s have no wingers for Becks to play off of, (2) he spent too much time deep behind the evolving offensive plays, which (3) limited his touches even more, and (4) he doesn’t look like he had a grip on his responsibilities, not to mention (5) the rest of this teammates didn’t have a clue how to play in that formation.
On the other hand, once it was clear that Chivas had plenty of answers for that tactical set-up, how good did it look having Becks (shifted back to his comfort zone on the right), Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, and Carlos Ruiz on the field at the same time? A full game of that could really cause problems for MLS defenses. On the other other hand, there was no joy at all in seeing Ante Jazic stretchered off the field late in the first half.
But perhaps I give the game short-shrift. Both teams clearly left it all on the field. Razov’s goal was a thing of beauty and Buddle’s goal was a thing of strength and determination. Greg Vanney and Troy Roberts in the center back positions weren’t horrible and Chivas’ Bobby Burling is impressive to watch live. I had a great conversation with my next-seat neighbor and found out I sit behind Justin Guarini. And, though this hardly seems like the kind of thing you should crow about as a conference leader, the Galaxy didn’t lose. As entertainment goes, I was entertained.
But as for the futbol, well, let’s just say the transfer window can’t open fast enough and trading Ruiz for decent midfielders still makes sense, especially if Tim Leiweke is still ranting and raving about winning hardware this season. I’m still convinced a couple of good d-mids can make all the difference. But I just write this mostly-weekly column. It’s up to the suits to make things happen.
Chivas shows heart but still can’t beat Galaxy
By JOHN SANDATE
I’ve debated since the end of tonight’s game as to how negative I wanted to be writing this. Think about it. Chivas USA had a chance to separate itself from the jewel of the MLS in the Western conference standings. It had a chance to prove that it was no longer a compliant, financial slave to AEG. It had a chance to quiet all those lame and biased Los Angeles soccer journalists with their closet love for the LA Galaxy. Oh well, it’s never a fairy tale ending with Chivas USA. I’m resigned to admit it now. Call it fatalism, I guess.
Until Chivas USA regains its magic, it will forever be a franchise that flails under a Galaxy franchise that is anything but a jewel. So what’s this about magic? What am I talking about? This Chivas team has heart and soul. It has players that have the courage to fight and not surrender. It doesn’t depend solely on one player with international fame to generate interest, nor does it depend on one player to score all the goals for the team.
The magic that I refer to is the one that players like Maykel Galindo brought last year and to a limited degree, Paco Palencia and Ramon Ramirez in past seasons. This team is solid enough to play with anybody in the league and beat most of them. However, based on last nights 1-1 draw, Chivas lacks a talisman like a Pavel Nedved or Juan Roman Riquelme to elevate this team to the next level. Make no mistake, this team can pass and defend. Landon Donovan disappeared last night.
David Beckham was ineffective. Carlos Ruiz was punked by Guzan and defenders time after time. Jesse Marsch and Pablo Nagamura played keep away with the Galaxy midfield and often made them look silly. However, in front of the box, our forward attack had the finishing, finesse touch of the Incredible Hulk.
I know in my heart there is only one person that can bring the magic I speak of to the pitch and it ain’t Chris Angel or David Blaine, his name is Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista. This player possesses the type of skill, technique, and magic that this team lacks right now. I’m pretty sick and tired of losing or drawing against lesser quality MLS squads because we can’t finish. Bautista is also a player in desperate need of a change and the Chivas fans would now have one Mexico’s most dynamic players to cal their own. Imagine Sacha to Bautista to Razov to Galindo, Goal.
In the meantime, Preki is going to have to stop watching “Hoosiers” and not get himself red carded. His team needed him and it would take more than Dennis Hopper to run the picket fence
to break the Galaxy 8-man defense.
Did I mention that I’m a Chivas USA supporter? Well if it isn’t obvious by now then it should be. I’m biased and I hate the LA Galaxy. Chivas USA lost last night. Not the game but the chance to step on the throats of all the haters.
Random notes: MLS teams should hire Oliver Stone to investigate the MLS-favoring-Beckham WAY TOO MUCH. I got tired of seeing Chivas USA players getting whistled for being within inches of Golden Balls.
Tom Cruise was at the game administering IQ tests to potential Scientologists. Attiba Harris should be pissed for being subbed out. Que paso con Claudio Suarez? Raphael Wicky is getting surgery. Gone and soon to be forgotten. Burling is a beast. He needs header practice though. Can someone tell Panchito Mendoza to pass the ball instead of running like an escaped convict? He needs vision. Like the Franck Ribery kind. Ante Razov is back and he’s pissed. Not good for MLS defenses. Don’t call him old either.
Anthony Hamilton makes me wish we still Laurent Merlin. No he doesn’t. Yes, he does. Sacha should keep his emotions in check for Galaxy games, they refs have his number. He’s potentially Chivas USA’s first mega-star. Too bad you can’t get his authentic adidas jersey anywhere in Los Angeles or Southern California. He’s from Orange County, but you have to special order his jersey and wait 4-6 years to get it. Actually, you can’t get any authentic Chivas USA jerseys anywhere in LA. Now if you’re a Galaxy fan, that’s different.
Last but not least, good bye Brad Guzan, you’re maturation and development before our eyes was an honor to witness. We wish you nothing but the best in Europe. Always remember, Arriba Las Chivas!!