CARSON, Calif. - The second Super Clasico between L.A.'s two MLS franchises on Saturday will mark a meeting of two teams in very different places. For Chivas USA, they carry the league's worst record into the derby and will be playing with nothing to lose. For the Los Angeles Galaxy, they find themselves at a crossroads, struggling to find an identity without star striker Landon Donovan.
Both teams will be looking to right their ships against one another, in what has already shown all the signs of becoming a heated rivalry in the Southland. There was no love lost between the sides a month ago when the Galaxy won 3-1, but both teams have gone through some changes, and the second edition is expected to be a much tighter affair.
For the Galaxy, Saturday's game will mark their third game in just eight days, and head coach Steve Sampson has been forced to use his bench extensively in the past week. All those moves has forced Jovan Kirovski out of his target striker role, and into the playmaking role that Donovan vacated.
The problem in Wednesday night's scoreless draw against Columbus was that the midfield bypassed Kirovski in an attempt to utilize the speed of the new faces on the pitch such as Naldo da Conceicao and Joseph Ngwenya. On Saturday, the Galaxy is going to have to correct that mistake if the offense is to generate any kind of consistency.
"We have to find that play maker in Jovan. It's something we'll work on in training," said Sampson. "I think he can do a good job on Saturday, I have no qualms about that."
While the offense is worrying about their own problems, the Galaxy defense can't rest on its laurels following their second shutout of the season. Tyrone Marshall knows all too well what a desperate team like Chivas is capable of.
"Come Saturday, Chivas' backs are going to be against the wall and they're going to be a tough team," the Jamaican international said. "They have everything to play for. We need to come out and get on top of them like we did the first time."
The Galaxy's confidence is waning a little bit after Wednesday night's disappointing result against Columbus. That could be something Chivas USA will be able to take advantage of with the help of their home supporters. In the last game - a Galaxy home match - the atmosphere at the Home Depot Center was absolutely electric a full hour before kickoff and this weekend should be more of the same.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.