More than points gained in Chivas win
CARSON, Calif. - In the end, Chivas USA's 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday counts as much in the standings as Saturday's 4-1 triumph against Colorado. The club took its three points and moved higher in the Western Conference standings in both games.
But Thursday's game meant so much more than moving up the table. It was the first Chivas victory in the club's Honda Súper Clásico history and gave Chivas their first-ever three-game win streak.
"The bottom line was, as an organization, we needed this win," Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley said. "That's probably the most important part of the night for us."
As home team, Galaxy fans were out en masse. At the beginning of the game, Galaxy fans outnumbered Chivas fans in both size and noise. Chivas fans composed one section in the northwest corner of the stadium, but otherwise Galaxy fans were everywhere. But by the end of the game, the section of Chivas fans - composed mostly of its Legion 1908 supporters group - chanted "Chivas! Chivas! Chivas!" and drowned out the stunned Galaxy fans.
"We've got everything we need in the stands to push us through," Bradley said. "Our fans were great and it was important for our players to thank them all."
A win over the Galaxy seemingly gives the rivalry true life. Chivas players pointed to their organization and said the victory was important to everyone associated with the Red-and-White.
"It's fantastic for the fans, for the owners, the front office staff and the players," Chivas defender Tim Regan said. "Everybody wanted this really bad and we tried to step up our level. Luckily we came out on top and it's the start of a new streak."
Chivas striker Ante Razov scored a pair of magnificent goals to give Chivas the victory. The first was a classic strike worthy of the World Cup. In the 16th minute, Francisco Mendoza fired a cross from the left flank to the front of the goal. Razov smashed the ball out of mid-air into the back of the net. Five minutes later, Razov finished off a perfectly-executed counterattack as he hit a left-footed shot from just outside the right corner of the penalty area to the far post.
"When you see goals like that, you get excited," Bradley said. "An incredible finish on the first one. You love to see your team put together some really good soccer and two goals like that I think get everybody excited."
The defense held a lead for the fourth time in five games at The Home Depot Center in which Chivas have scored first. Goalkeeper Preston Burpo also solidified his position as No. 1 goalkeeper.
Still, as important as the victory was, some players looked a bit more practically at the three points.
"It's damned important. If we don't win this game, we are 3-5-1 going into Dallas, who is the best team in the conference right now," Burpo said. "It takes off a little bit of pressure going in there. Obviously we still want to win but if you're 4-4-1 instead of 3-5-1 going into the game, that's a big difference."
Chivas' third consecutive victory followed a similar pattern as the previous two. In wins against Chicago (1-0) and Colorado (4-1), Chivas scored first and held off their opponents with strong defending and timely goalkeeping.
"The first game in this winning streak, we're up 1-0 the first minute and we held on for 90 minutes," Burpo said. "The second game, we got some goals late and held on. That was good. This week, we scraped it out again."
The Galaxy, who lost their seventh consecutive game, gave Chivas a valiant effort. Spurred by new coach Frank Yallop - who took over for the deposed Steve Sampson on Wednesday - the Galaxy did well to counter Chivas' surging momentum and cut into their 2-0 lead.
In the second half, the defending champions put up a battle. The Galaxy fired 14 shots but only three on goal.
"It was pretty difficult as you could see," Regan said. "I'm not going to go around saying that we were the better team tonight. They were great. They were creating chances going forward putting their life on the line. I thought we held it well."
In the end, the game was a must-win for Chivas. With the Galaxy mired in a losing streak and Chivas coming off two consecutive wins, the deck was stacked for a Chivas victory.
"There would not have been any kind of excuses had we not gotten three points," Bradley said. "We're pleased with the effort. We're pleased with getting that one of our backs for a while."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.