CARSON, Calif. – In the lean years as well as the triumphant ones, the LA Galaxy had dominated rivals Chivas USA.
Not even that small joy is going the Galaxy’s way this season.
For the first time since Sept. 13, 2007, the Galaxy lost a SuperClásico, falling 1-0 in the first of three scheduled meetings against Chivas this season. Instead of the Galaxy’s dominance over Chivas rising to the forefront, it was the Galaxy’s shortcomings from 2012 that held the club back once more.
HIGHLIGHTS: CHV 1, LA 0
“It’s kind of been the same old story,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “We had some chances to score and didn’t and kind of one weird play that determined the game and that’s kind of how it’s been all year.”
Chivas’ lone goal came via a penalty kick, awarded to the designated hosts on the evening after David Junior Lopes was sent off for a handball on a shot that was heading into the back of the net. Lopes said he didn’t lunge for the ball and seeing red was troubling to what had been an otherwise solid performance.
“I was on the line and I didn’t have time to move my arm,” Lopes said. “The ball went straight to my arm very quickly…The fault is mine. I’m very sad. The day started very well for me but it ended badly.”
Teammates though were sympathetic with Lopes and stood by him.
“It’s a little harsh because it’s hard for David to react," Donovan said. "The ball just kind of hits him but that’s the way it goes. It’s unfortunate.”
Jose Erik Correa converted the penalty kick and gave Chivas the lead with 72 minutes gone. If the Galaxy had had their druthers, they would have let the shot go directly into the goal in the first place.
“The natural tendency would be, you have a reflexive reaction to it and I think he did that,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “If we could now play it back, you say let the goal go in and let’s play down a goal with 11 players.”
The Galaxy were dangerous despite the numerical disadvantage. David Beckham, who arrived back in Southern California only hours before the start of the match, was set to come in when the red card came down on Lopes. By the time he entered the match, the Galaxy were already down to 10 men. But Beckham provided a spark to the club even under those circumstances.
He did well to change the game and added some life to the Galaxy’s attack, but the players were still unable to get the ball in the back of the net.
But that was not the Galaxy’s lone chance to score.
“I thought a goal was coming the first 20 minutes of the second half. It just felt like we were playing well and things were going the right way,” Donovan said. “They kind of float a ball in the box and that play happened and it changes the game. If we’re at fault for anything, it’s not scoring when we had chances.”
Chivas ‘keeper Dan Kennedy had four saves – three of them in the second half – to help keep the Galaxy off the scoreboard. The chances the Galaxy had though were enough to have helped the Galaxy walk away with three points.
“Difference in the game is we did poorly with the chances we created,” Arena said. “In a game like that someone’s going to take advantage of a goal scoring opportunity. We had a couple of good ones in the second half and did poorly on them.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.