CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA’s shots against the LA Galaxy have historically not been good enough.
When the Red-and-White reached back, clenched their fist and threw an uppercut in the latest SuperClásico, it still was not nearly enough.
“We sure are confident in these games,” Landon Donovan said after the Galaxy's 1-0 win on Saturday night. “But to their credit, this is as good of a game as they’ve given us in the past few years.”
And yet, the same result played out at Home Depot Center: The Galaxy scored first, Chivas USA battled but were ineffective and eventually, LA came out on top. The Galaxy won in what will go down as a road victory, but many in the sold-out crowd of 27,000 walked away content with watching their side get three points.
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“It was an important game,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. “At the end of the day, it’s just another game and another three points, but we feel that it’s our stadium and it’s important that we win this game.”
The Galaxy ran their winning streak to four in the teams’ previous regular-season matchups. Chivas USA last beat the Galaxy in September 2007.
LA got the only goal they’d need in the 26th minute when Beckham swung a free kick into the middle of the box. Chad Barrett leapt and buried the header into the back of the net. For Beckham, it was his sixth assist of the season and yet another one coming off a free kick.
“We’ve got players who can get on the end of the ball,” Beckham said. “I know if I put it in the right area, then we’ve got a chance of scoring and it’s happened the last few games.”
Barrett’s goal now gives him three on the season, the most amongst Galaxy forwards.
“It’s definitely the best game Chad had in a Galaxy shirt,” Beckham said. “He’s done well the last few games getting himself in goal-scoring opportunities and he did the same tonight. His all-around play tonight was exceptional and it was fitting he got the game-winning goal.”
Chivas USA, though, pressured the Galaxy in the second half. After LA had controlled the match for the first 45 minutes, it was the “hosts” who took the game to them. The Red-and-White threw numbers forward and were a bit more dangerous than they had been. Ben Zemanski rattled a shot off the post in the 65th minute as the club was a bit unlucky to not have equalized.
“A team that’s down a goal at halftime is going to come out, we fully expected that,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “We wanted to get the second goal and try to kill off the game. Give them credit. It’s not untypical of any game where there’s a team trailing by a goal — they’re going to throw bodies forward, they’re going to be a little more direct, they’re going to have a number of balls in the box. They did that and we weathered the storm.”
Still, the Galaxy made it a bit more difficult on themselves. Barrett had a breakaway and could have put the game out of reach early in the second half. After eluding Chivas USA’s Dan Kennedy, though, Barrett hit the outside of the net.
“If we put away that chance by Barrett in the opening minutes of the second half, we make life a little easier for ourselves but it’s good to be in these games,” Arena said. “On a night when you’re not really your best, when you’re not particularly sharp is a positive. That’s what we accomplished.”
While the match was not necessarily pleasing to the Galaxy’s eyes, the result was and that is all that mattered.
“Sometimes when you’re not perfect, you find a way to win, and I think a lot of teams would have drawn or even lost that game,” Donovan said. “We’re still happy.”