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A sellout crowd of 27,000 showed up to the Home Depot Center to see the Los Angeles derby between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, but they weren't treated to the prettiest of matches. The lone goal came on a set piece, the play wasn't overly beautiful for most of the 90 minutes and there wasn't even the bad blood intensity that is the norm in the Galaxy vs. Chivas matches. What has been the norm and continues to be though is Galaxy dominance, something that only continued with their 1-0 win and keeps Chivas without a win against their rivals since 2007.
With the win, Los Angeles is up to 23 points, most in MLS. It was essential that the Galaxy get the win tonight with a midweek match coming up and facing a month without Landon Donovan, who will be with the United States team for the Gold Cup.
Chivas' strong run of form came to an end on Saturday night, losing for just the second time since March 29. Even so, the Goats are on 12 points, which isn't good enough for a playoff spot, but has them within striking distance.
It was actually Chivas who started quickly, setting up Justin Braun on a corner kick within a minute. The Galaxy looked uninspired to start and the Goats took advantage in earned the corner. It looked like it paid off when Braun got his head on the corner kick, but it flashed just wide of the post.
From then on, it was all Galaxy in the first half. They pressured the Chivas back line and dominated the midfield play, holding the ball for long stretches. Mike Magee had one great chance at goal blocked, while a bad touch from Juan Pablo Angel took him away from a good chance.
It took until the 26th minute for the Galaxy's superior play to show on the scoreboard. A free kick from the edge of the left corner of the penalty box gave David Beckham the chance to hit one of his patented free kicks. That's exactly what he did, putting the ball right on the head of an amazingly unmarked Chad Barrett to nod past Dan Kennedy for the goal.
The goal did not stop the Galaxy from looking to go forward. Los Angeles continued to press for the rest of the first half, but despite their chances they couldn't get a second goal.
No one had a better chance than Barrett, who easily could have made it 2-0 just after halftime. Angel controlled a pass beautifull and perfectly weighted a ball into Barrett's path. Barrett had beat Chivas' offside trap and was in alone on goal. He dribbled in and rounded Kennedy, leaving him an open goal. Barrett, as he has made a nasty habit of doing in his MLS career, missed the open goal though and the LA lead was still just 1-0.
The longer the second half went on, the more it looked like Chivas might be able to grab an equalizer. Despite dominating the Goats with an aggressive approach, the Galaxy got more and more defensive as the second half wore on and Chivas was only too happy to take advantage of the space LA was giving them in the midfield.
Ben Zemanski had the best chance for Chivas and it looked like he had himself the equalizer, but the post had its own thought. Alejandro Moreno did well to hold off his defender and win a header at the Galaxy penalty spot. He nodded it back for Zemanski at the top of the box and Zemanski struck it well. Donovan Ricketts was beat, but the ball clattered off of the post and away.
Ricketts gave Chivas a couple chances late, but neither got across the goal line. First, the Jamaican bobbled a long shot. He spilled the rebound right in front and forced the Galaxy defenders to scramble for a clearance. The clearance went over the end line for a corner kick, one that Ricketts got caught in traffic on. That allowed the ball to bounce around in front of the goal, but it was cleared away and the Galaxy managed to hold on for three points.
Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has made his final substitution of the match, bringing on Michael Stephens for David Beckham in the 89th minute. Beckham made his impact on the match from the outset, stretching the Chivas USA defense with long passes that created space in the center, but his greatest contribution came on the Galaxy goal. He played the free kick right onto the head of Chad Barrett for the goal that put LA up 1-0, a scoreline that still stands.
Stephens played a big part in the beginning of last season, helping the Galaxy off to a hot start, but he finished the season poorly. Now in his second season, Stephens has struggled for playing time, but Arena is going with him late on in this match for the fresh legs. Beckham has never been much of a defender and Stephens is a quick player who can pressure the Chivas players and the Galaxy try to kill off this match.
Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts may have won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year last season, but he doesn't look it right now. The Jamaican had a coule issues in goal and almost gave Chivas USA the equalizer at the Home Depot Center. Chivas are theatening and after some dominating Galaxy play, the Goats are looking like they might have an equalizer in them, partly because of Ricketts.
First came a long shot on Ricketts. It was low and hard, but should not have troubled Ricketts much. For some reason though, it did. Ricketts just blocked it and left it right in front of goal, forcing the Galaxy defense to scramble and clear it away for a corner kick. On that corner kick, Ricketts got tied up in traffic and flailed away hopelessly at the ball. It bounced around in front of the LA goal, but the defenders finally managed to get away and keep the Galaxy ahead 1-0.
The Los Angeles Galaxy have the lone goal of the match off of a free kick and another of their other good chances came on a free kick. With David Beckham taking the free kicks, they can be especially dangerous. Chivas USA does not have a Beckham and it showed when they had their crack at a free kick and couldn't even get a halfway decent chance on it.
It was Beckham who gave Chivas the chance, committing a foul 25 yards from goal. The Goats could have taken a speculative chance at goal or looked to play a ball in for a runner to get in ont he end of, but neither happened. Instead, the ball hit the wall and bounced away harmlessly. One of the Goats' best chances went for nothing as they couldn't even get a look at goal from it.
The importance of set pieces is often repeated time and time again to the point that it becomes annoying, but in this match the importance is evident. Beckham is playing the balls in for the Galaxy and getting LA goals, while Chivas isn't even getting a look on them.
With the match into its final 25 minutes, Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser and Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena are making use of their subs in the hope of using fresh legs to turn the match in their favor. Arena made an earlier sub, bringing on Chris Birchall for Mike Magee and now he's brought on Miguel Lopez for Chad Barrett. Fraser's first sub of the game came with top striker Justin Braun surprisingly coming off for Chris Cortez.
Trailing 1-0, it's strange to see Braun come off. He is undoubtedly Chivas' best attacking threat, but he hasn't played 90 minutes too many times this season and could have been tiring. Cortez was just signed a week ago by Chivas so it is not as if Fraser is turned to an old hand.
Arena is hoping Lopez can take advantage of a tiring Chivas defense. Barrett scored the Galaxy goal, but began to tire and the energetic Lopez has come on strong in recent weeks. With the Goats pushing for an equalizer he could find space behind the back line.
Even ahead 1-0, the Los Angeles Galaxy continued to push for a goal and they were successful. They held the ball, created chances and most of the match was played in Chivas USA's end. Maybe that was too successful for the Galaxy though because they began to drop deeper in a defensive look and give Chivas space to play. As expected, that turned out poorly for LA as the Goats began to grab some control of the match. It almost hurt the Galaxy too in the 65th minute when Ben Zemanski hit the post to just miss out on leveling the match.
A high ball to Alejandro Moreno at the penalty spot was well played by Moreno. He held off his defender and nodded the ball down to Zemanski at the top of the box, who showed no hesitation. The 23-year-old took a shot on the first touch, beating Donovan Ricketts, but failing to beat the post. This match has begun to turn and now it looks like Chivas will have a chance as long as the Galaxy continue to give them space.
The Los Angeles Galaxy have made the first sub of the match, taking Mike Magee off and bringing Chris Birchall on in his place. The move gives the Galaxy an added defensive presence because of Birchall's ability to tackle. This isn't a surprise considering LA leads 1-0 and has began playing more defensive. They have begun to give Chivas more space in the midfield by dropping very deep, which is a style much more suited to Birchall than it is the offensive-minded Magee.
It won't be long before Chivas makes a substitution either. They need a goal and have nearly their entire bench up and getting warm. Head coach Robin Fraser has begun to give instructions onto his assistants, who have relayed them to the players so it looks like Chivas will make their move very soon too, although there isn't a ton of obvious offensive talent for Fraser to turn to on the bench.
Juninho is developing a reputation in MLS for an ability to strike the ball well from distance and he showed why in the 58th minute. The Brazilian unleashed a shot from 25 yards that just skipped past the post and almost had the Los Angeles Galaxy up 2-0 on Chivas USA.
The Chivas midfield has been terrible all match. They haven't been able to keep the ball and with the back line dropping deeper and deeper, LA has had plenty of space to work with. Juninho ran right into that space, driving towards the Chivas goal before having a go from 30 yards that just missed.
Very often, Juninho does not get the opportunity to go forward and make an impact in the attack because he is covering defensively for David Beckham. It doesn't make the most of Juninho's ability, but it appears as if Juninho and Beckham are gaining a greater understanding of how each other play. On Juninho's foray forward and shot, Beckham was deeper covering for Juninho, a positive development for a central midfield partnership that just began a month ago.
Derby matches are usually full of testy moments and the Los Angeles derby is no exception. In the past there have been plenty of yellow cards, red cards and all the pushing and shoving one could want in a match. That is except for tonight's match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. For 50 minutes it was perfectly civil and if anything it lacked all physicality. Simon Elliot put a lid on that though, earning the first card of the match with a foul on Mike Magee.
Magee got the ball and had he gotten past Elliot, would have gone into the Chivas half with support against an out of sorts defense. The veteran Elliot did what he was supposed to do, taking down Magee to stop the attack and when he was shown his card he didn't complain. It took 50 minutes, but this match finally has its first hard. It is awfully strange for a rivalry match, but that's been the case tonight.
Chad Barrett may have tried to convince spectators that he really was a good striker with his goal in the first half, but he has reverted back to his normal self. It's the Chad Barrett that has a reputation all around the league for a hard worker who is strong, who can run and who can also miss the net better than anyone else in the league. That is what he did in missing a wide open goal that could have put the Los Angeles Galaxy up on Chivas USA right at the beginning of the second half.
A ball to Juan Pablo Angel in the center of the pitch was perfectly gathered by the Colombian. He controlled it, turned and spotted Barrett making a run at midfield. Chivas, trying to play an offside trap, were caught. Angel played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Barrett who was all alone. He dribbled his way towards goal, rounded the keeper and had an open goal to shoot at. Of course he put the ball in the side netting though, missing his chance and keeping Chivas in this match with LA's lead still just 1-0.
Chivas USA started brightly, but ever since the match has tilted firmly in favor of the Los Angeles Galaxy. The first Los Angeles derby of 2011 looks set to go to the more accomplished team in the city with the Galaxy leading the Goats 1-0 at halftime and looking like they are bound to get at least one more. Chad Barrett got on the end of a David Beckham free kick to put the Galaxy ahead, but the minutes before and rest of the first half makes it look like the Galaxy will continue their dominance of the team they share the Home Depot Center with.
Not even a minute into the match Chivas was almost ahead. While the Galaxy looked lazy and lethargic, the Goats came flying out and earned a quick corner. Justin Braun got on the end of that corner kick and head one that beat Donovan Ricketts, but it just went wide of the post.
After that the Galaxy were flying. They dominated possession, easily holding the ball while Chivas were forced to chase. With Barrett working hard to make runs over the top and the threat of Beckham playing long balls, Chivas had to drop deeper. That opened up space for the Galaxy, who were only too happy to take advantage.
Chances didn't turn into a goal until the 26th minute for Los Angeles though. Blocked shots and near misses kept the match scoreless until then, but when LA got a free kick just beyond the left corner of the box, they took advantage. Beckham played a perfect ball to the top of the six-yard box where Barrett was unmarked and easily headed the ball past a helpless Dan Kennedy to put LA up 1-0.
Even though they had their goal, LA kept pushing. Another Beckham free kick found a teammate's head, but Mike Magee put it over the bar. Juan Pablo Angel came inches a way from poking the ball past an onrushing Kennedy and Chivas had no answer.
The Goats continued to play long balls to Braun, who did well to hold the ball, but he had no help. With no help for Braun up top and a midfield being vastly outplayed things look grim for Chivas. The one hope they do have is a mistake from a Galaxy back line that has committed their fair share of them this season. Even so, this one looks like it will go to the Galaxy.
Ever since Bruce Arena took over as manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy, the results have gotten much better. He turned around the club and got them winning again, but it wasn't always pretty. Score a goal and bunker down to hold a 1-0 lead became the Galaxy game plan. Well, the Galaxy aren't sticking to that game plan against Chivas USA. They got a goal from Chad Barrett on a David Beckham free kick, but are still flying forward looking for another.
The Galaxy have found success on the right side through Sean Franklin and Mike Magee and almost got a goal off of it. A cross from the right forced Dan Kennedy to come out late and punch it away with a Galaxy player lurking at the back post to put it away if Kennedy couldn't get to it. Not long after, Beckham got another chance on a free kick and put it in a perfect spot, but Magee's header went over the bar. Right after, Juan Pablo Angel got a chance, charging in on a ball and just missing on getting a toe on it to put it in before Kennedy got off his line to grab it.
It's all Galaxy in this one. They have a defense prone to mistakes so Chivas could get back in this one, but the quality is firmly in favor of Los Angeles right now.
If any moment was a more perfect example of the Chivas USA attack than Justin Braun dribbling around looking for help in the 38th minute I'd like to see it. The anemic Chivas attack is somewhat expected. They were dependent on Braun last year and did little to help him out this season, instead focusing on building up a porous back line under new head coach and former defender Robin Fraser. Even so, Braun dribbled around looking for help was almost sad.
The tall, strong and somewhat gangly Braun is Chivas' only attacking threat. He gather a ball five yards from the endline on the right side and proceded to spend 15 seconds dribbling around. He was double marked and had no where to go. All he wanted to do was hold the ball long enough for a teammate to come so he could pass it, but there was no teammate to be found. He did exceptionally well to keep the ball, but eventually had to play and aimless ball across that did no good. Braun could use some help in the form of another attacking player...or four.
Chad Barrett has developed a reputation in MLS for wasting chances to score. David Beckham has developed a reputation worldwide for his ability to play pinpoint balls on set pieces. Well, Barret didn't waste his chance after Beckham put a free kick right on his forehead to put the Los Angeles Galaxy up 1-0 on Chivas USA in the first LA derby of 2011.
The Galaxy earned a free kick just beyond the left corner of the penalty box and as is the case on all LA free kicks, Beckham stepped up to the ball. It wasn't far from the spot where Beckham scored against Sporting Kansas City last week, but he wasn't going for goal this week. He whipped the free kick in to the top of the six-yard box where Barrett was inexplicably unmarked. Barrett rose to it and with his head just put a bit of a touch on the ball. It rocketed past a helpless Dan Kennedy and the Galaxy were ahead 1-0.
For Los Angeles, they will feel as if the lead is deserved. Aside from the opening few minutes and single chance at goal for Alejandro Moreno because of a miscue by Juan Pablo Angel, the Galaxy have been the better team. They have dominated possession and used it to push deep into the Chivas third with little response from the Goats.
Just as it looked like the Los Angeles Galaxy were grabbing control of the match, Chivas USA came oh so close to getting the first goal of the match. Sure, it came because of a miscue from LA, but the Goats were there to take advantage as Alejandro Moreno forced Donovan Ricketts into a good save to keep the match scoreless.
A free kick from far away landed right on the chest of Juan Pablo Angel 15 yards from goal. There wasn't a Chivas player anywhere near Angel, but he just chested it right to Moreno. Moreno's first touch was enough to slip past Omar Gonzalez and his shot from a tight angle was good. He struck it hard and low towards the far post, but Ricketts was able to get down and make the save. He also couldn't catch it, but wrangled it at the last minute to keep the rebound away from the Goats.
Chivas USA started much brighter than the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first LA Derby of 2011, but the Galaxy have since found their footing. Early on, Chivas were active and quick to the ball to begin the match while the Galaxy looked lethargic and didn't put in much effort. That led to an early chance for Justin Braun, but since the 10th minute, Los Angeles has grabbed control of the match.
Omar Gonzalez almost made the Galaxy's control pay off in the 16th minute when he got on the end of a David Beckham free kick, but headed it wide. It was the first chance at goal for the Galaxy, but it came on the end of five minutes where Chivas hardly touched the ball.
Sean Franklin is active along the right side, looking to push forward from his fullback spot. Chad Barrett has shown a good work rate, pushing the Chivas defense back and with the back line dropping deeper, Landon Donovan has slipped inside to the space created. The Goars will need to show some ability to hold the ball and stem the pressure because if they try to play like this the rest of the way it will be an ugly night for the team in red and white.
The Los Angeles Galaxy are only 10 minutes into their match against Chivas USA, but it is already abundantly clear that they are trying to play through David Beckham whenever possible. Several times already LA has found Beckham in the center of the pitch with the hope that he could find anyone streaking downfield, although it hasn't paid dividends yet.
While Beckham is aging and doesn't quite have the ability to run like he used to, but his passing is still exquisite and LA is trying to take advantage of that. Nobody would call the Galaxy a fast team so it is easy for teams to close down space and make the Galaxy play in small spaces, which is why they try to play through Beckham. His threat to find players all over the field forces defenses to stretch out and at the very least it creates spaces in the middle that wouldn't otherwise be there.
LA will continue to play through Beckham, but he alone cannot hold the creative responsibilities. Juninho is capable of creating plays as well and it is imperative that LA brings him into the match as well so he doesn't get too defensive minded in covering for Beckham.
It didn't take long for Chivas USA to get on the front foot. In fact, it took them less than a minute. Roughly 50 seconds into the match Justin Braun put a head just inches wide of the post and if the gap in table between the leaders Los Angeles Galaxy and strugglers Chivas USA means anything to the Goats, it didn't look like it. Really, it looked as if it meant something to the Galaxy, who came out flat.
The Galaxy took the kickoff and lost the ball quickly. As soon as Chivas got possession they flew forward. They moved quickly and were aided by a lackadaisical Galaxy side that was content to just watch. Within 30 seconds Chivas had driven deep inside the Galaxy third and forced a corner kick. On that corner kick, Braun rose to meet the ball while the Galaxy defenders watched and his header had goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts frozen, but it just went wide of the post.
History and the table may show the Galaxy to be the better team, but Chivas are playing with confidence after a 3-2 win at New York a week ago. If the Galaxy want to continue their dominance over the team they share the Home Depot Center with, they'll have to play like they care, something that wasn't there in the first 60 seconds.
There is no doubt that at least one United States national team player that will be on the Gold Cup roster is playing in tonight's match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, but is there another? U.S. head coach Bob Bradley is at the Home Depot Center to check out the game, which could mean he is keeping an eye on another player who might be on the roster that Bradley will announce on Monday.
Landon Donovan is the one sure bet to be on Monday's roster, but how about Omar Gonzalez or Justin Braun? Braun is a much bigger longshot, really only playing well last week and never establishing himself with the national team before. Gonzalez might have a better shot of making the team than some are giving him though. Big and strong in the air, Gonzalez could make the team if Bradley chooses to leave Oguchi Onyewu, who hasn't played well since injuring his knee in October 2009, off the roster.
Could Gonzalez make the Gold Cup roster with a strong match tonight? It's possible. It is not as if the U.S. is strong at the back. It could be nothing though. Bradley is completely obsessed with soccer and considering he lives in Southern California, he could just be at the HDC to watch the match.
The first edition of the Los Angeles derby between Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy is just about ready to get underway at the Home Depot Center with fans from both teams streaming into the stadium. The Galaxy have dominated the rivalry since Chivas joined the league, besting their rivals from across the hall five times in six years. That dominance has reached its highest point lately with the Goats failing to beat the Galaxy since 2007.
The Galaxy enter the match leading all of MLS with 20 points. They've done so on the back on Landon Donovan, who has been on fire of late. He scored seven of the team's last nine goals, including two in last week's 4-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.
Like LA, Chivas has their full allotment of players available. Their first choice XI will depend heavily on Justin Braun up top, who scored a hat trick last weekend. The Goats have one of the league's better defenses, but will need a standout performance from Braun because they lack much other attacking talent.
For seven years now, Chivas USA have lived in the shadows of the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Galaxy were one of the original clubs in MLS and also one of the most successful in the league. When they built the Home Depot Center, the Galaxy had the preeminent soccer-specific stadium in the country and players like Cobi Jones and Mauricio Cienfuegos made the club further standouts in an admittedly low-profile league.
Then Chivas USA came in, a little brother of Mexico's uber-successful Chivas Guadalajara and looked to scoop the Mexican population in Los Angeles. It never happened and only besting LA in one of six seasons so far, while the Galaxy picked up players like Landon Donovan and David Beckham didn't help.
So here we sit in 2011 with Chivas still the Los Angeles professional soccer afterthought. The Galaxy are still the preeminent team in the city and with the star power and money backing the Galaxy, Chivas are unlikely to make up ground in the tabloids. Where they can make up ground is on the field, where the Galaxy have been far superior of late. The Goats first chance to close the results gap in 2011 comes on Saturday night, but more important to Chivas than closing the gap on LA is moving up the table.
Under new head coach Robin Fraser, Chivas has done what is to be expected of a team now run by a former defender. They have built up their back line and it has paid off. A year after being torched at the back time and time again, Chivas have allowed the second-fewest goals in the league. That will challenge a Galaxy attack that last week aside has had trouble scoring.
What will give the Galaxy hope that they can get some goals against Chivas is last week, when they blew past Sporting Kansas City, 4-1. Landon Donovan continued his sensational play, scoring twice, and David Beckham scored on a blinding free kick as well. That wasn't the big story for Los Angeles though. It was the goal by Juan Pablo Angel that gives them hope that their attack fortunes are changing.
A year ago, the Galaxy were heavily dependent on Edson Buddle to do most of the attacking work and that's what he did. Unfortunately for LA, Buddle left the club after the year for Germany. In their search for his replacement, LA came upon their third designated player, Angel. The aging striker had been deadly for the New York Red Bulls and the Galaxy were hoping for the same at the Home Depot Center. The beginning of the season didn't go as planned though, with Angel battling illness, injury and poor form. Last week was his liveliest week yet though and his goal ignited hopes that he may be able to lead the Galaxy line, which if he can do, makes the Galaxy a dangerous attacking side.
For Chivas, their attack is entirely dependent on Justin Braun, not that that is a terrible thing. After all, Braun has emerged as one of the better strikers in MLS and after a rough start, he has come on strong. The striker scored three times last week in the Goats' 3-2 win over New York and against a defense prone to mistakes, like LA's, the best thing any team can have is a hot striker. That is what Braun is right now.
Chivas hasn't defeated Los Angeles since 2007 and with the Galaxy leading the league on 20 points, this doesn't appear to be the match that they end that streak. If the Goats can manage a win though, it will vault them right into the second pack of teams in the Western Conference, a position that would be a dream for a team in year one of rebuilding under a new head coach. As lovely as it would be though, it is hardly the smartest bet because this one has all the makings of continued Galaxy dominance.
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