Entering the 2009 MLS Cup postseason, Chivas USA had a chance to turn things around in their SuperClasico playoff series against the Galaxy. After all, the series had been all but one-sided until then in favor of the Galaxy.
But things remained the same come playoff time. The teams combined for a spirited 2-2 draw in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals and the Galaxy closed out the series with a 1-0 win in the return match.
Same old one-sided rivalry.
But will Galaxy players count on their series dominance ahead of Thursday’s Super Clasico? Will the Galaxy simply show up, flex their 10-3-5 regular-season record over their in-stadium rivals, and walk away with another comfortable win?
Not quite. Galaxy players insist they are looking forward, not behind.
“You can never rest on your laurels because if you are always concerned about the history of the rivalry, it starts to get in your head and that’s not what we want really,” Galaxy defender Todd Dunivant said. “We don’t want to come out complacent and feel we have these guys’ numbers and that’s how it is. You’ve got to show up and you’ve got to earn it every game. We’re going to have our work cut out for us and we have to be better on the day.”
Chivas USA beat the Galaxy once in 2006 (by 2-1) and twice in 2007 (each by 3-0) but have been unable to pull out a win since then. In three regular-season meetings last year, Chivas failed to score a goal.
“We don’t lull ourselves into thinking we have some sort of advantage over them,” said Galaxy midfielder Chris Klein. “This is a new season and a new year and two new teams trying to find their way in the 2010 season. The slate is clean as far as we’re concerned.”
Galaxy players expect nothing but a motivated and hungry Chivas USA side to hit the field on Thursday.
“Chivas are going to be pretty motivated to get a result against us,” Galaxy forward Landon Donovan said. “But we feel that this is a home game and this is a team we should beat.”
Compounding the necessity for wins is the calendar itself. In previous years, the Galaxy and Chivas have met at least three times every season. With the balanced schedule in place for the 2010 season, the next time the clubs meet will be in October, at the tail end of the campaign.
Familiarity with their rivals is also what drives the Galaxy.
“These are guys we pass in the halls every day,” Klein said. “Our locker rooms are less than 100 feet from each other, so it creates that tension that we want the Home Depot to seem like our field and we want to protect that.”