CARSON, Calif. - For a team that hasn't won a game since June 11, the Los Angeles Galaxy should be looking forward to the third installment of the Super Clasico. After all, they have dominated their Home Depot Center roommates in the previous two encounters - but things are a bit different in the Southland this time around.
"I think at this point you have to throw the other games out. Whatever the scores were in the first two games, we're not looking at that," said Ned Grabavoy, who's seen his playing time increase dramatically over the past weeks. "This is going to be a completely different game."
Whether it be a defensive lapse, a missed offside call that led to a goal, or a last-second equalizer scored against them - New England scored with the last kick of the game two weeks ago - the breaks haven't been going the Galaxy's way lately.
Conversely, Chivas USA are sky high and their offense is finally showing the flashes of brilliance that Jorge Vergara promised his fans at the beginning of the season. Chivas USA has scored eight goals in their last two games - five against Real Salt Lake in league play, then another three in their first-ever U.S. Open Cup game.
To make things that much more difficult is the circus that has followed Real Madrid to Los Angeles. Just 48 hours after the Chivas USA match, the Green and Gold will face off against one the world's great clubs. The hype surrounding the game could prove to be a very big and unwelcome distraction, but head coach Steve Sampson has made assurances that wasn't going to be the case.
"It's important for us to have a good week and get people ready for this Saturday," said the Galaxy boss. "We know it's an important match on Saturday. We're focusing on that and nothing more."
As usual, the sidebar for Saturday's game is the bet between the two team presidents. Again the focus is on the underprivileged children in the L.A. area, as the losing general manager has to bring 50 kids to his rival's home game. For the first time in this short series, Doug Hamilton, the president and GM of the Galaxy might be the one paying up.
Regardless of who wins the bet though, the game should be much closer than the previous two, as both teams are in very different places right now, both mentally and physically. The Galaxy should see the return of Chris Albright into the starting 11. He would be a welcome addition to an oft-times absent-minded defense that has had more downs than ups over the past month.
One thing is for certain; the game will be very entertaining for the fans.
"Both teams are going to be scratching and clawing. We need a win, and they just had one," said Grabavoy. "I'm sure they want another too because it's a good feeling." A feeling the Galaxy haven't had in quite some time.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.