'Super Clasico' off to electric start
Before the game even began, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA knew the first match between the two clubs would be special. The home side seemed to hold the larger percentage of fans at the sold-out Home Depot Center and they didn't disappoint, treating their supporters to a 3-1 win in the first Super Clasico.
"The guys came back in after the warmups and said 'It's electric out there,'" said Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson. "That's only going to be great for soccer. Not only in Los Angeles but in all of MLS."
The crowd definitely played a factor in tonight's game, at times drowning out the sound of the referee's whistle on the field. At one point, players continued to play for more than 30 seconds after referee Brian Hall whistled a foul. The roar of the crowd also helped the Galaxy maintain the momentum after their first goal in the 14th minute.
"The atmosphere was great," said Galaxy defender Tyrone Marshall. "We got the early goal and we knew it would break their backs."
That it did, as Los Angeles dominated the first half and got production from some unlikely sources.
"Defensively we shut them down in midfield and on the back line," the Galaxy boss said. "We got some great goals from guys who don't normally score goals."
Those "guys" were Cobi Jones and Pete Vagenas. For Vagenas, it was his first regular season goal in four years -- a brilliant strike to finish off a flowing move in the 24th minute would prove to be the game-winner.
"A stroke of luck took over," he said. "The soccer gods were with me I guess."
An earlier goal by Jones, his second in two games, and a late first-half goal by Jovan Kirovski would cap the scoring for the Galaxy.
Despite their continued dominance through the final 45 minutes, it was Chivas who scored the lone goal of the second half, a fact that left a little bit of a bitter taste in the Galaxy's mouths.
With all the pre-game hype the Clasico was getting, the Galaxy were definitely trying to come out and make a statement. A 3-1 scoreline looks impressive on paper, but the Galaxy players certainly weren't basking in their own glory after the game.
"A win's a win," said Vagenas. "I don't think we played the style we would like to play from minute one to minute 90. We've got a lot of work to do and I think that showed tonight."
Anyone who doubted that two teams could really be rivals before ever having played a game were quickly silenced. Yellow cards flew early and often, and a brief scuffle interrupted play as well.
"It was definitely an intense match," said Jones, at the heart of the pushing match. "This game had everything right off the bat. We established a good rivalry here."
Tonight's game was just the first installment of four games in the Super Clasico of Los Angeles. If tonight's game was any indication of how things are going to be both on and off the field, then MLS fans are in for a treat throughout the remainder of the season.
The second meeting is set for May 28, but for the moment said Jones: "We showed who's the team in L.A. right now."
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.