Galaxy await hostile atmosphere
Barring an unlikely turn of events ending up in a playoff meeting between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, Wednesday's Super Clásico will be the fifth and final time the two teams play this season.
So far the Galaxy have claimed victory in the four previous games; three in league play and most recently in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. But Wednesday night's matchup will have an interesting twist to it as one that will test the resolve of a struggling Galaxy side.
All four of the previous games have been played at The Home Depot Center, where the Galaxy have enjoyed the benefit of a large number of supporters, regardless of who the "home team" technically was. Wednesday night's game is being played at the Los Angeles Coliseum as part of a doubleheader, the Galaxy-Chivas game followed by Chivas of Guadalajara against arch-rival Club America. As a result, the stadium should be filled with Chivas fans, America fans and not a whole lot of Galaxy fans, making the contest the most anti-Galaxy crowd the Green and Gold have faced all year.
"It should be a crazy atmosphere out there. We're probably not going to have many fans," said rookie defender Ugo Ihemelu. "It should be a fun experience."
Head coach Steve Sampson seemed a little less enthused this week in training about the type of crowd his team will have to contend with.
"It's more than just a rivalry now, it's a rivalry where every game matters," said Sampson. "There's going to be a lot of Hispanic fans. Whether half of them are rooting for us remains to be seen."
What Sampson is hoping for is that the America fans that show up early for the first game root for the Galaxy by default, out of hatred for their rivals Chivas. That could possibly be wishful thinking on the part of Sampson and the rest of the Galaxy.
Los Angeles doesn't just have to deal with the partisan crowd though. Right now, the Galaxy are mired in one of the worst stretches in franchise history, winning just one game in their last 10 league contests - against Chivas. The poor run of play recently has caused mounting pressure in the Galaxy camp, especially since San Jose had been playing so well and is pulling away from the Galaxy at the top of the table.
Couple that with the fact that Colorado has also been playing well and rapidly closing in on the Galaxy from behind and there is a rather tense situation brewing in the Southland.
"I really believe there's less pressure on them than there is on us. They're (Chivas) waiting on their players from Mexico and I think their sense is that's their new start," said Sampson. "For us, it's different. We have to show that we're better than what we've been playing, and not just against Chivas."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.