CARSON, Calif. – Sometimes, it’s losing by the slimmest of margins that carry the biggest hurt – especially if that loss is against your fiercest rivals.
On Sunday night, that was the case for Chivas USA, who dropped yet another SuperClasico with a 1-0 defeat to the LA Galaxy.
“This is a huge rivalry, they're 50 yards away from us,” said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser, describing the distance between Chivas’ and the Galaxy’s locker rooms. “For us, we viewed it as a game that is extremely important, and so the result is just extremely disappointing.”
The key difference between the two sides on Sunday night was not just Chad Barrett’s goal in the 53rd minute; it was also the difference in the quality of the back lines.
Each time Chivas threatened their opponents’ goal, the Galaxy defenders were there to deny them.
Whether it was a shot from close range that was blocked by Omar Gonzalez in the 76th minute or a clever turn towards goal that was denied at the last moment by a slide tackle from Todd Dunivant, Juan Pablo Ángel just wasn’t able to challenge ‘keeper Josh Saunders.
For the former Galaxy man, LA’s ability to neutralize him showed the true gap between the two teams.
“We lacked ideas in the final third. We weren't able to utilize spaces that they were leaving every time that we were attacking,” Ángel told reporters after the match. “At the end of the day, I was the only one in the box the majority of the time. They were basically overlapping every time that I had the chance to get in there.”
While Ángel may have had several potential chances at net, the problems for the Rojiblancos stemmed further up the field.
Prior to giving up the goal, Chivas appeared shaky in midfield, allowing the Galaxy to venture up the field with threatening runs. However, the tally seemed to awaken Chivas, who began to enjoy more of the ball and more space in which to operate as the Galaxy began to drop back.
“Sometimes, when they get a goal, it changes their tactics, so there’s a little more space for us,” said Chivas ‘keeper Dan Kennedy. “But we were definitely more dangerous when we got scored on.”
But the Goats still were unable to take advantage of their newfound possession.
“If our build up is slow, then they will obviously get numbers into the box and behind the ball,” said Fraser. “Then it's difficult to find who is in the box. I just feel that there were times that we could have been quicker and more efficient with the ball and those would have gotten us better.”
The defeat marked Chivas’ fifth straight regular season loss to the Galaxy. Although the defeat to their in-stadium rivals hurts, Fraser’s men will now shift their focus towards their final match of the season vs. the Seattle Sounders on Oct. 22.
“We gotta win,” said Kennedy. “We gotta give our fans something to cheer about. That’s what it’s about.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.