CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy haven't won in nearly a month, four games in all, and sit at .500, well below their expectations. So Sunday's SuperClasico with slumping, undermanned Chivas USA could be just what they need (11 pm ET; UniMas).
The Goats have lost six MLS games in a row, are winless in their last nine – six of them shutout losses – and have been a shadow of the side that rallied for a late 1-1 draw in the season's first meeting three months ago.
The Galaxy (6-6-3) have confidence following a superb defensive showing in Wednesday night's scoreless draw with Portland, but they're hungry for what would be only their third win since April.
“I'm telling you, my experience: Those games [against struggling foes] are the most dangerous ones,” said goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who played two decades in Italy and England. “Because you have to prepare mentally more than physically. Because you risk going into the game with not a lot of concentration because you might expect not the great opposition, but we can't make this mistake, especially now, especially after a good job on Wednesday night.”
LA isn't certain what to expect from Chivas (3-9-2), who lost, 3-1, Wednesday at Vancouver in new manager José Luis “Güero” Real’s debut.
“It's a hard question for me to answer,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “I haven't really followed them that much, and there's a little bit of roster turnover that I can't quite figure out anyway. ... This will be the coach's second game, there's not a whole lot of history there, so it's really hard to figure out who they're going to play, what they're going to look like, for the most part. That's OK. We just got to get out there and play.”
Chivas played in a 4-1-4-1 alignment against Vancouver, much different than the 3-5-2 former coach José Luis “Chelís” Sánchez Solá preferred or the 4-3-3 interim coach Sacha van der Most used in his game in charge, a June 1 loss to Seattle.
Arena called Chelís' system “unique,” and said he expected Chivas to be “a little more orthodox than they were last time. A little but more of an orthodox formation and an orthodox style of play.”
Beyond that, though, the only expectations held by the Galaxy, who will be visitors Sunday night at the StubHub Center, are that Chivas will be fired up.
“I think you generally understand this, regardless of what has happened previously in our games, this is the game of the year for them,” Arena said. “One would predict that they're going to play with a lot of emotion and be quite competitive, regardless of who they play or how they play.”
These are the kind of games, Cudicini noted, that can be won with character rather than skill.
“[It's about] how willing you are to die on the pitch,” he said, “and I'm sure that, considering the position [they are in] now, this is for sure what we have to expect about them. We have to match them in every way.”