Chivas USA surrendered three first-half goals and struggled to get back into the game as the Los Angeles Galaxy won the first MLS Super Clasico 3-1 at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night.
Chivas USA was blitzed early on, allowing three goals in the opening 32 minutes, and could not maintain its rhythm or keep possession long enough to create any sustained pressure. The situation only worsened for the Red-and-White when Aaron Lopez was sent off in the 51st minute after picking up his second yellow card.
Chivas USA did well to keep up with the Galaxy and keeper Brad Guzan kept the score close after making several spectacular saves in the final 25 minutes. In the end, though, the Galaxy outclassed the expansion club.
Hard challenges dominated the opening minutes as the match started with its expected intensity. Both sides exchanged rough challenges as each team attempted to gain control of the midfield.
In the ninth minute, Chivas USA keeper Brad Guzan punched clear a cross from Galaxy midfielder Peter Vagenas. Guzan's clearance helped spark a Chivas USA counterattack as Matt Taylor eventually ended up with the ball near the Galaxy penalty area. However, a foul and ensuing free kick yielded nothing.
From the start, it was the Galaxy controlling the match. Chivas USA conceded three corner kicks to the Galaxy in the first quarter hour. The Galaxy finally broke through on the third corner kick. In the 14th minute, Chivas USA's Hector Cuadros cleared Chris Albright's header off the line but the ball bounced to the front of the penalty area where Cobi Jones fired a laser beam into the back of the net.
In the 19th minute, Taylor had a goal disallowed on an offside call. Taylor got the ball at the top of the penalty area, although Thiago Martins was behind the Galaxy defense but never touched the ball. However, the referee disallowed Taylor's 15-yard rocket past Kevin Hartman.
Less than a minute later, tempers flared yet again. Cuadros knocked down Jones near the middle of the field and was booked. Jones went after Cuadros as players from both sides swarmed the two. On the next trip downfield, Chivas USA's Douglas Sequeira executed a perfect slide tackle on Landon Donovan, who lay on the field for several seconds.
Arturo Torres was taken off in the 24th minute. For several minutes prior, Torres appeared to hobble around the field in apparent pain. Isaac Romo came on for Torres and went in at center forward. Martins slid over to Torres' right forward position.
The Galaxy's persistent pressure then immediately led to the second goal. A long ball out of midfield from Cobi Jones found Donovan, who headed the ball down right onto the path of Vagenas, who tucked a shot into the lower left corner of the net.
Chivas USA surrendered the third goal on a free kick in the 32nd minute. Alfonso Loera, who started in place of the injured Ryan Suarez, fouled Donovan a few yards outside the penalty area. Jovan Kirovski took the ensuing free kick and fired it just over the wall into the left side of the goal.
Chivas USA countered quickly in the second half. Just three minutes in, Chivas USA won a free kick. Ramon Ramirez took the free kick from nearly 30 yards out on the right side of the penalty area. The ball floated into the area toward Romo, who had found some space inside the area. While he missed, he appeared to graze the ball which was enough to fool Hartman.
But three minutes later, Chivas USA was reduced to 10 men. Lopez pulled down Donovan from behind as he raced past on a Galaxy counterattack and was given his second yellow card of the game.
Chivas USA made sporadic runs but failed to maintain possession for a prolonged stretch of time. The club spent a good deal of the second half counterattacking and trying to create offense from the flanks.
Chivas USA's Guzan did well to thwart a pair of Galaxy scoring chances. In the 65th minute, Ednaldo da Conceicao broke in alone on Guzan but the rookie keeper came off his line, dived to stop the Brazilian's challenge and easily knocked the ball away. Two minutes later, da Conceicao was open in the area but again Guzan came up big, stopping his point-blank shot.
Guzan stood firm as the Galaxy continued to pepper the goal with shots. With the Galaxy finding all sorts of space to shoot, Guzan was forced to make several diving saves to keep the score within reach, including twice in short order in the 81st minute on Galaxy midfielder Guillermo "Pando" Ramirez.
In the 84th minute Chivas had one final threat when Ramirez whistled the far post on a well-struck 20-yard free kick. The shot though missed the post by inches.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Chivas USA (0-2-1) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-0)
April 23, 2005 -- The Home Depot Center
LA -- Cobi Jones 2 (unassisted) 14
LA -- Peter Vagenas 1 (Landon Donovan 2, Cobi Jones 1) 24
LA -- Jovan Kirovski 1 (unassisted) 32
CHV -- Ramon Ramirez 1 (unassisted) 49
Chivas USA -- Brad Guzan, Ezra Hendrickson, Aaron Lopez, Douglas Sequeira, Orlando Perez, Ramon Ramirez, Hector Cuadros, Alfonso Loera, Arturo Torres (Isaac Romo 24), Thiago Martins (Antonio Martinez 70), Matt Taylor.
Substitutes Not Used: Javier Barragan, Francisco Mendoza, Jesus Ochoa.
TOTAL SHOTS: 3 (Ramon Ramirez 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Aaron Lopez 1, Ramon Ramirez 1); FOULS: 12 (Aaron Lopez 5); OFFSIDES: 5 (Isaac Romo 2); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Ramon Ramirez 1); SAVES: 9 (Brad Guzan 8)
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright (Michael Umana 54), Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Cobi Jones, Guillermo Ramirez, Landon Donovan, Jovan Kirovski (Ednaldo da Conceicao 64).
Substitutes Not Used: Paul Broome, Pablo Chinchilla, Mubarike Chisoni, Steve Cronin, Herculez Gomez, Ned Grabavoy, Joseph Ngwenya.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Guillermo Ramirez 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 12 (Guillermo Ramirez 4); FOULS: 17 (Paulo Nagamura 4); OFFSIDES: 2 (Landon Donovan 1, Jovan Kirovski 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Landon Donovan 4); SAVES: 1 (Kevin Hartman 1)
LA -- Chris Albright (caution; Reckless Foul) 6
CHV -- Hector Cuadros (caution; Reckless Foul) 19
CHV -- Aaron Lopez (caution; Professional Foul) 45
CHV -- Isaac Romo (caution; Delaying a Restart) 49
CHV -- Aaron Lopez (caution; Pushing, Holding) 51
CHV -- Aaron Lopez (ejection; Second Caution) 51
Referee: Brian Hall
Referee's Assistants: Nathan Clement; Robert Fereday
4th Official: Kevin Stott
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.