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It's the third Super Clasíco of the year between the stadium mates of The Home Depot Center, but for the first time it's Chivas USA that could be coming in the hotter team. The Los Angeles Galaxy haven't won in six games - and haven't won away from The Home Depot Center in more than a year, their only "road" win on the campaign a 2-0 triumph against Chivas in their last meeting. But the "visitors" come in after having ended their lengthy winless run in resounding fashion, hammering expansion brethren Real Salt Lake 5-1 last weekend, then surviving an Open Cup hurdle at midweek.
REFEREE: Brian Hall. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Thomas Supple; 4th: Baldomero Toledo
MLS Career: 95 games; FC/gm: 29.7; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 25; pens: 30
Games involving Galaxy: P12 W9 L2 T1; FC/gm: 28.8; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 3; pens: 2
Games involving Chivas USA: P3 W0 L3 T0; FC/gm: 30.0; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 2; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Ben Benditson (sports hernia); QUESTIONABLE: DF Chris Albright (L knee MCL sprain); FW Jovan Kirovski (L groin strain); FW Joseph Ngwenya (sports hernia surgery); MF Guillermo Gonzalez (L quadriceps strain); MF Peter Vagenas (R hip flexor strain); FW Jovan Kirovski (L groin strain)
CHIVAS USA - OUT: GK Martin Zuñiga (R knee ACL sprain); GK Shaun Kalnasy (head contusion/concussion); DF Alfonso Loera (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Jesus Ochoa (L knee MCL sprain); DF Aaron Lopez (L shoulder sprain); DF Esteban Arias (L hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: FW Landon Donovan (USA; CONCACAF Gold Cup); DF Michael Umaña (Costa Rica; CONCACAF Gold Cup); DF Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica; CONCACAF Gold Cup) ... CHV: DF Douglas Sequeira (Costa Rica; CONCACAF Gold Cup)
SUSPENDED: CHV: Ramon Ramirez (21 CP; through July 16)
WARNINGS: LA: Paulo Nagamura (18 CP) ... CHV: Hector Cuadros (16 CP); Thiago Martins (16 CP)
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Galaxy 2 wins, 5 goals ... Chivas USA 0 wins, 1 goal ... 0 draws
AS GALAXY HOME GAME: Galaxy 1 win, 3 goals ... Chivas USA 0 wins, 1 goal ... 0 draws This is the third meeting between the two clubs in the Honda Super Clasíco - all four of course at The Home Depot Center. This is the second home game for the Galaxy, the final meeting (a Chivas home game) coming Oct. 8.
Coaches record: Steve Sampson vs. CDC: P2 W2 L0 D0... Hans Westerhof v LA: first game
The Los Angeles Galaxy won a "road" game for the first time this season - even though it came on their home ground - defeating stadium mates Chivas USA 2-0 in the second Super Clasico this season on May 28 in what was the final match in charge for Chivas head coach Thomas Rongen.
After a tense first half, Costa Rican defender Pablo Chinchilla put the Galaxy ahead when he was left completely free to head home a Jovan Kirovski free kick from the top of the goal area (62).
Peter Vagenas then finished off the match 14 minutes from the end when he pounded home a lovely feed from Kirovski, who claimed the ball and set off on a mazy run through a host of Chivas defenders before finding Vagenas alone just inside the area.
Here's Thomas Rongen's team (4-2-1-3): Martin Zuniga - Ezra Hendrickson, Alfonso Loera (Francisco Gomez 87), Ryan Suarez, Orlando Perez (Matt Taylor 79) - Douglas Sequeira, Ramon Ramirez - Hector Cuadros (Arturo Torres 69) - Thiago Martins, Isaac Romo, Francisco Mendoza.
Here's Steve Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Ugo Ihemelu, Pablo Chinchilla, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant - Cobi Jones (Michael Umana 84), Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Guillermo Ramirez (Paul Broome 65) - Ednaldo da Conceicao (Herculez Gomez 77), Jovan Kirovski
At The Home Depot Center on April 23, the first Los Angeles derby lived up to many expectations with a vibrant, intense match both on and off the field. But it was the MLS original Galaxy that owned the contest, scoring three goals in the first 32 minutes to run out easy 3-1 winners.
Cobi Jones gave the Galaxy a 14th-minute lead when Chris Albright turned a corner kick on goal, only to see Chivas USA's Hector Cuadros clear it off the line. But Jones swooped in at the top of the area to blaze a first-time shot back under the crossbar.
Then 10 minutes later the 'home' side struck again, a long ball from Jones out of midfield headed down by Landon Donovan into the path of Peter Vagenas steaming up the center-forward channel, and he skipped through a tackle before lashing a low shot past Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan.
And then after Donovan was hacked down on the edge of the area, Jovan Kirovski hooked a free kick over the wall and inside Guzan's right-hand post to put the Galaxy up 3-0 (32).
Just after the break Chivas pulled a goal back, credited to Isaac Romo when his slightest of touches slipped a deflection of a Ramon Ramirez free kick from the right flank past Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman (49). But six minutes later Aaron Lopez was sent off for a second bookable offense and that sealed Chivas USA's fate.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Los Angeles Galaxy saw their winless skid reach six matches and their long winless run on the road continue, falling 2-1 to the MetroStars on Saturday evening at Giants Stadium. The Galaxy fell to third place in the Western Conference, dropping out of a tie with the San Jose Earthquakes for second, now with 25 points from 17 matches, three behind San Jose and nine adrift of West leader FC Dallas.
The Galaxy remained winless away from The Home Depot Center for the season - and since June 27 of a year ago, a span of 15 matches - while the MetroStars held on to a late lead after a recent spell of seeing results slip away.
The MetroStars took the lead after just 14 minutes when Amado Guevara converted from the penalty spot after Ugo Ihemelu bundled over Ante Razov from behind as he raced to latch onto a ball played over the top of the Galaxy defense.
But four minutes after the break, the Galaxy pulled level despite starting a team decimated by international duty and injury. Herculez Gomez collected a pass on the right flank and from a tight angle hit a wicked dipping ball that surprised Metro 'keeper Zach Wells and hit off the inside of the far post and into the goal.
Yet at the three-quarter mark, the Metros again pulled ahead. Eddie Gaven found Guevara at the top of the restraining arc, and he scooped the ball over the static Galaxy defenders back to Gaven, whose initial header was saved. But Hartman spilled the rebound, and Gaven knocked it home from close range.
Galaxy coach Steve Sampson made three changes to the team that drew 1-1 with the New England Revolution the Monday before at The Home Depot Center. Troy Roberts came into the back four as Tyrone Marshall left for national team duty, while Michael Enfield made his first MLS start for Guillermo Ramirez, also an international absence. Cobi Jones was slowed by illness, meaning Herculez Gomez started in the other wide midfield role.
Here's Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Troy Roberts, Ugo Ihemelu, Pablo Chinchilla, Todd Dunivant - Herculez Gomez, Ned Grabavoy (Josh Gardner 77), Paulo Nagamura, Michael Enfield - Alan Gordon (Jovan Kirovski 57), Ednaldo da Conceicao (Cobi Jones 73)
"I thought our boys battled. I was very happy with their second half effort, especially the first 10 minutes. We created some great chances," Sampson said. "Obviously disappointed that after we equalized we gave up the second goal. I have to question whether he was offside or not, I'll have to wait and see the video. But with all the injuries we have, all the players missing for national team duty, I'm very happy with the way these guys battled tonight."
Sampson ran out a number of young players in his first team, and was pleased with some of the efforts he saw. "You want to look at a few guys tonight, I think we got some more answers. Troy Roberts played very well in the back, no question he can play in this league. Mike Enfield continues to impress, Herculez scored a great goal, so there is a lot of positive to take from this.
Still, the late goal saw the Galaxy winless streak extended - and it's now the third-longest winless skid in club history.
"I thought we were finally swinging something along. We did what we wanted to do in the second half. We came out flying and we got an early goal, and I feel there is enough experience on this team with some of the veterans we've got, where we've just got to do better not letting another goal go in," Gomez said. "I think we stepped up our intensity a notch, but you can't be just 70 minutes, you can't be 71, it's got to be 90 minutes complete, and again, that slip let us down."
It was a second consecutive start up top for Alan Gordon, who has been thrust into the starting lineup after missing much of the opening three months following hip surgery.
"A lack of depth at the forward position has been an issue for us recently, so we're very happy to have him back. We're trying to give him as many minutes as possible," said Sampson. "As he gets fitter and fitter, and gets his touch and rhythm back, he's going to score a number of goals for us."
In addition to the return of Donovan and Kirovski from national team duty, and the other first-teamers out, Gomez has made a statement for more minutes, especially with his goal in Giants Stadium.
"Herculez is one of those players that just has a nose for the goal. The angle he was at was not a great angle, the distance, he must have been about 25 yards out, and he hit it with great pace," Sampson said. "I think Herculez is one of those kinds of players that is an opportunist and I think he continually shows that he can play in the MLS and in the last two, three games he's come on, he's made an impact for us."
Beyond FC Dallas (six) and New England (five), the Galaxy were the only team with more than one player selected for the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game. Landon Donovan was voted to start in the midfield, while Chris Albright was selected as a reserve defender.
Chivas USA won the second match in club history and snapped an 11-game winless run, thrashing Real Salt Lake 5-1 at The Home Depot Center last Saturday, their second win against their expansion brethren. Chivas USA are still in last place in the Western Conference with nine points from 18 games, trailing Real by four points and now eight points out of the final place in the MLS Cup Playoffs held by the Colorado Rapids.
Chivas USA won for the first time since May 7 as they exploded all of their frustration in a 5-1 victory against fellow expansion club Real Salt Lake, matching the league-high in goals in a game this season.
Chivas opened the lead after just five minutes through an unfortunate own goal. Matt Taylor latched onto a clearance and drove a low cross back into a crowded goalmouth where it deflected off Brian Kamler's leg into the goal. Then Chivas doubled their lead barely after a quarter-hour was gone, Thiago Martins pulled back in the box by Real defender Cameron Knolwes and Hector Cuadros converting the resulting penalty (17).
Real pulled a goal back midway through the first half, as Clint Mathis hammered a low free kick past the wall and off the inside of the left-hand post of Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan and into the goal (23).
But Chivas hit for two goals in three minutes shortly after the restart to seal the match. Cuadros found Martinez with a terrific pass as Chivas quickly swung the play from right to left, and after he skipped into the area unmolested he beat Countess on an angled shot from inside the area (53). Then two minutes later the highly influential Taylor found the back of the net, working a give-and-go with Cuadros to perfection, collecting a neat backheel before knocking home a close-range shot.
Isaac Romo rounded out the scoreline in the 84th minute. Taylor intercepted a clearance and slipped a pass between a defender's legs to the substitute, who coolly sent a hard shot from close range past Countess.
"It's a combination of things but it was a good chance for us," Taylor said. "We're playing at home against the second-to-last place team and they're missing a couple of people. There were a lot of factors that came into tonight and we were lucky enough to take advantage of that tonight."
Chivas USA head coach Hans Westerhof made one change to the team that lost 1-0 to the Chicago Fire the weekend before, Francisco Mendoza coming back into the team for the suspended Orlando Perez.
Here's Westerhof's team (3-3-3-1): Brad Guzan - Ezra Hendrickson, Francisco Gomez, Armando Begines - Esteban Arias (Alfonso Loera 68), Ramon Ramirez, Antonio Martinez - Matt Taylor, Hector Cuadros, Francisco Mendoza - Thiago Martins (Isaac Romo 71)
"I'm happy for our win because we played a very attractive style of football, Westerhof said. "Still, I believe that we kept making mistakes and there are some aspects of our game that need to improve to become an offensive team that I'm expecting as a coach."
After 17 games of frustration, it was one night where everything went Chivas USA's way. "We had to blow up sooner or later," Chivas USA's Antonio Martinez said. "We've been creating a lot of chances the past few games. I don't know if we're fortunate or just had the right mentality but they went in."
Matt Taylor was involved in all five goals, though he was credited with just two assists to go along with the goal. It was his low cross driven into the penalty area that bounced off Brian Kamler into the Real goal, and his through ball sent Thiago Martins in on goal, when he was hauled down for a penalty.
"It just like every time I got the ball, I was in a dangerous situation," Taylor said. "That's one of those games you don't get to have too often."
One of the more telling signs that Saturday truly was a step in the right direction was the composure Chivas showed after the intermission. Instead of the opponent scoring an early second-half goal, it was Chivas who put the game out of reach in the first 10 minutes after the break.
"Usually in the beginning of the second half, we fall apart, we lack mentality or whatever," Martinez said. "Today, we made a pact. We all stood together and ... we wanted to show everyone that we're not just a first-half team and that we can win games in the second half."
Chivas USA left it late, but survived their first-ever U.S. Open Cup test, coming from behind to claim a 3-2 victory against USL Second Division (third tier) Charlotte Eagles in a third-round match at Davidson College on Wednesday. Esteban Arias scored in the third minute, but Charlotte took the lead with 10 minutes left. But Thiago Martins hit for the equalizer three minutes later, then seconds before the game would have been decided by a penalty shootout, Isaac Romo scored the match-winner.
Here's Westerhof's team: Brad Guzan - Ezra Hendrickson, Francisco Gómez (Jesús Ochoa 100), Armando Begines, Esteban Arias (Arturo Torres 69) - Ramón Ramírez, Héctor Cuadros (Thiago Martins 30), Francisco Mendoza - Matt Taylor, Antonio Martínez, Isaac Romo
That will set up another Super Clasíco, as Chivas and the Galaxy have been drawn together for the fourth round, to be played Aug. 3 at a site still to be determined.