Element of surprise: Chivas USA hope to keep LA Galaxy guessing Sunday

CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA needed a clutch goal from rookie midfielder Carlos Alvarez in the waning moments to earn a shocking draw against the LA Galaxy in their previous matchup, and they hope the element of surprise works in their favor again Sunday in the SuperClasico at the StubHub Center (11 pm ET, UniMas).

Like they were in early March with the enigmatic José Luis “El Chelís” Sánchez Solá at the helm, the Goats will be under the direction of a coach that has never faced the Galaxy before.

Chivas USA, who haven’t had much go their way the last three months, hope to use that mystery to their advantage.

“Even last time they didn’t know what to expect,” Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy told reporters on Friday. “We definitely know what to expect from them, so we need to be on our game. It’s always a quality match to play in and be a part of, and one I certainly look forward to throughout the year. It’s going to be a fun game.”

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New head coach José Luis “Guero” Real, who replaced Chelís on May 29, dropped his MLS debut earlier this week in a 3-1 loss to Vancouver but despite the defeat, he was optimistic about the team’s potential in the coming weeks.

“It’s motivating because we’re facing the champion, with the figures and coach they have there,” Real told reporters. “I know it’s a difficult and dangerous challenge for us, but we all hope we can get a result.”

The Goats appeared to be onto something the last time these two sides met, when Alvarez tied the match in the 89th minute despite being down a man for the entire second half. They then won their next two matches to close March with a 3-1-1 record, but have been futile ever since. Chivas USA (3-9-2) sit in last place in the Western Conference standings, having accumulated only 11 points.

READ: Dan Kennedy happy with what the coaches have asked of him

“The perspective is a little bit different for us going into this game,” Tristan Bowen told reporters. “We need to start collecting points to make a push to the playoffs, whereas Galaxy, in all honesty, if they win, lose or tie [Sunday], it’s not going to make much of a difference in their season. For us, it’s just about getting points.”

The Galaxy have also struggled this month, grabbing only one point in three matches. Still, Real understands the task his team is set to meet.

“The champion is the champion, and one has to recognize that Galaxy, with the coach they have and quality of their players, they are definitely the strongest opponent we’ll face,” Real said. “I can’t a promise a result, but I can promise the team will play better every time out.”