The Super Clasico between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA was everything as advertised -- except for a close game, as the Galaxy dominated play for 85 minutes en route to a 3-1 victory.
The Galaxy opened up a three-goal lead in the game's opening half hour, and even though the expansion team pulled a goal back early in the second half, Chivas saw any chance they had of getting back into the game when Aaron Lopez was sent off.
As expected, the game was intense from the outset. Referee Brian Hall made four foul calls in the first two minutes of the game, and pulled out a yellow card after just six minutes, issuing the caution to Galaxy defender Chris Albright.
But the Galaxy dominated the opening half, and broke through after just 14 minutes. A Donovan corner found the head of Tyrone Marshall, and his deflection fell to the foot of Albright, whose turn-around shot beat Guzan but was cleared off the line by Hector Cuadros.
But Cobi Jones found the rebound and fired a first time blast into the back of the net from 18 yards out.
Chivas thought they had an equalizer just five minutes later, but the play was ruled offside, much to the delight of Kevin Hartman, who was fishing the ball out of his own net.
From that point on it was all Galaxy. After a couple of hard fouls on Jones and Donovan that started to get tempers heated, the Galaxy responded the best possible way in the 24th minute. Donovan again took part in the goal, heading a long ball from Cobi Jones into the path of an onrushing Pete Vagenas. The Galaxy captain coolly touched the ball around his marker before firing a low shot into the corner of the net.
Donovan again played an integral part in the Galaxy's third and final goal of the first half. After he was pulled down just outside of the box, Guillermo Ramirez and Jovan Kirovski stepped over the ball. The U.S. international took the kick, curling it over the wall and into the net, leaving Guzan completely helpless.
Any question of whether Chivas would pack it in and give up in the second half were quickly answered. Just four minutes into the second stanza, Ramon Ramirez hit a free kick from 35 yards out. Substitute Isaac Romo tried to meet it with his head, but while he missed it had the effect of wrong-footing Kevin Hartman and Chivas had pulled a goal back.
Sensing a momentum change, the Galaxy continued to press forward with immediate results. In the 51st minute, Donovan seemed to be in behind the Chivas defense with a clear path to goal. Chivas midfielder Aaron Lopez, wanting to prevent a clear breakaway, pulled Donovan down just outside the area, earning himself a red card and changing the whole dynamic of the game.
With Chivas forced to commit more player forward already down a man, the Galaxy speed started to take over and tried to break on the counter.
Second half substitute Naldo Conceicao had two golden opportunities in just two minutes, Guzan first aggressively coming off his line to clear the ball from danger, then a shot on the half-turn nestling comfortably in the keeper's arms.
Again the Galaxy would threaten to make the scoreboard operator do some work in the 81st minute, but to no avail. Pando Ramirez sprung free into the Chivas penalty area, but a well-timed kick save from Guzan denied the Guatemalan his first goal of the campaign.
Chivas finally looked dangerous again in the 84th minute. Brian Hall awarded them a free kick just 20 yards away from goal and Ramon Ramirez again stepped over the ball, but he watched his well-struck ball sail just wide of the post.
The Galaxy maintain their second-place standing in the Western Conference with the victory, and now await the visit of FC Dallas next weekend, who hold the best overall record in the league this season.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Greg Daurio 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.