Carson, California. Tonight's match continues the Clasico Angelino series for 2014. This evening had Chivas USA visiting, within their own StubHub Center, the LA Galaxy in a battle of cross-home rivals. It also signifies either a shift or possible continuation of two squads heading in completely different directions. Our Goats lost 5 of 7 matches while the Galaxy were undefeated in their last 3. But what was in store for this game? As it happened, the teams split the points in a 1-1 draw.
Early on, the match was completely going the right way for Chivas. In spite of a negative possession-time differential, the Goats opened the match's scoring when Martin Rivero made a beautiful pass to Erick Torres that he was able to slot past a diving Jaime Penedo in the 20th minute to put Chivas up 1-0. Cubo's strike marked his 9th goal of the season and placed him as the 3rd leading goal scorer in MLS.
The LA Galaxy then equalized in the 35th minute as Marcelo Sarvas crossed a phenomenal ball in the box for Gyasi Zardes to head home. Zardes' shot was only made possible by his brilliant movement to locate the narrow seam between the Goats' Donny Toia and Mauro Rosales, coupled with his impeccable placement of the header to a point where Dan Kennedy had absolutely no chance of preventing the score.
The 1-1 score would remain for the duration of the match as each Los Angeles team gained a point.
Here's what we observed from tonight's match:
Dan Kennedy makes history: Props to Dan Kennedy for becoming Chivas' all-time leader in club appearances as he surpasses both Jonathan Bornstein and Francisco Mendoza with his 124th league appearance. Kennedy has been a consummate professional and a symbol of consistency in spite of his franchise's legacy of turmoil and unrest. As far as expectations go, Chivas fans have had very few in any positive regard. However, having Kennedy in goal has always been the one area where no questions or concerns have ever been warranted. With Dan as the Rojiblancos' goalkeeper, there is always an opportunity to remain competitive in spite of how poorly any other area may perform.
124 games as a Goat has certainly played a role in diminishing Kennedy's value as an MLS goalie, at least around the league. Fortunately, Kennedy has been acknowledged by MLS as an All-Star, but has yet to receive notable accolades of either playoff success or United States Men's National Team recognition. Being referred to as a "good player on a bad team," often carries a negative connotation. With Kennedy, it has brought almost universal respect among both teammates and rivals alike. Kennedy has been and will continue to be the face of the Goats and provides the team with their best opportunity to win a match. This was clearly displayed throughout tonight's match and most importantly in the waning minutes as the Goats clung to a point.
New formations. Chivas head coach Wilmer Cabrera deserves some credit for experimentation and trying new things. Tonight's match saw Cabrera utilize a five-man backline that consisted of Toia, Bobby Burling, Carlos Bocanegra, Tony Lochhead and Eric Avila. Not surprisingly, this unit was successful in minimizing LA's vaunted attack with the slight Zardes exception. The opportunity cost proved to be a serious lack of scoring opportunities for Chivas. Nevertheless, Cabrera's plan helped to keep the Goats competitive and the score within reach. The Goats were also far more effective in minimizing penalties against their rivals as the team accumulated zero yellow and red cards. Yay!
History teaches us... Much. Too much at times. It should always be noted though that it (a) doesn't teach us everything and that (b) it can change. Those two points are precisely why we play the game. Every indication of history, in this rivalry, points to a strong LA Galaxy victory over Chivas. In all seriousness, this SuperClasico has really been anything but "super." What has been apparent is that tonight's game marks the first Chivas goal in 290 consecutive minutes against the Galaxy. This scoreless streak has resulted in a previous six-straight victories for LA against Chivas going into this match. Sadly, sharing a city, stadium and training facilities has not resulted in similar records of success.
The LA Galaxy have now won 4 MLS Championships compared with the Goats' zero. Not coincidentally, the Galaxy have become a perennial contender that have been all but virtually guaranteed of a playoff seeding. Additionally, LA has become a model MLS franchise and one of the most marketable for the entire league. The Galaxy compete with the likes of international stars such as Robbie Keane as well as domestic stalwarts like Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez. In contrast, Chivas has often been characterized and labelled as incompetent, poorly managed and even considered racist and unjust. We are talking about teams that share very few similarities either on the pitch or within the organizations.
The proverbial "silver lining" to Chivas' cloud is now that MLS has recently taken over temporary ownership prior to a pending sale and rebrand of the embattled franchise. Such drastic actions couldn't have come at a better time. Gradually, fans of Chivas have seen their patience and continual support wear exceptionally thin. This has become far more visible with their dwindling attendance numbers and overall apathy. Hopefully, the right track isn't too far off and the Goats, or whatever new name may be soon be attached, will be moving in accordance with everyone's desire for a winning atmosphere.
Landon Donovan. On a side note, Chivas fans should not have been seeing Landon Donovan play their Goats this evening. Donovan should have been leaving Jacksonville, Florida with the US National Team for Brazil to participate in this year's World Cup. With that said, all opinions, dialogues and points-of-contention regarding Donovan have been completely exhausted at this point. There is little to nothing left to say other than, "it is what it is" and let's all "move on." We collectively and emphatically support our national team without regards to "who" has been selected to wear the uniform. Let's go, USA!
The Goats, along with all of MLS, will be on a World Cup hiatus for a couple of weeks. Chivas will return home to face Real Salt Lake at the StubHub Center on June 28th, and will play in the U.S. Open Cup next weekend. Until that time, there will be plenty of solid matches to watch either on the television or in-person throughout Brazil. Enjoy participating in the World Cup and please take care.
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