CARSON, Calif. – When Juan Pablo Ángel went 90 minutes for the LA Galaxy in their victory over Chivas USA in May, he had no idea that by the next SuperClasico, he'd be leading the charge for the other guys.
Since making the move across the hall in August, Ángel has been a revelation, scoring seven goals in seven games and bringing his season total to 10.
On Sunday, Chivas will rely heavily upon the veteran striker to as they attempt to snatch their first victory against their arch rivals since September 2007 (9 pm ET; ESPN/ESPN Deportes, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“It's a unique situation,” Ángel told MLSsoccer.com. “It's the team that I started off the year playing for and now I will play against them. It only happens here [in MLS], but for me, I just need to handle the game and I'd like to play well. It's as simple as that.”
Although the Rojiblancos have been eliminated from playoff contention, there’s no doubt a win against the Supporters’ Shield winners would be immense.
But for that to happen – and for Ángel to continue his torrid scoring streak – Chivas will have to crack a Galaxy defense led by the stellar play of MLS Defender of the Year frontrunner Omar Gonzalez, who has helped LA to an undefeated 11-0-5 record at home this season.
And while the matchup between the former teammates is key, it will be moot if Ángel gets the better of Gonzalez unless Chivas can take care of business up the field and provide him with quality service.
“We need to be sharp and committed to the attack and get our numbers forward so we can put them under some pressure,” said Nick LaBrocca. “If we can get them to face their own goal then see if we can get some mistakes out of them ... hopefully we can get them out of their comfort zone a bit and expose them.”
Should Ángel, LaBrocca and the rest of Chivas USA succeed in finally taking down the Galaxy, the victory may just give them something to build on for next year.
“This is one of those games that we want to give the supporters something to cheer for,” said Ángel. “It's about the pride, and this is a game where it's important that we get the momentum right. It's been a while since we beat the Galaxy, so it'll be great to end the season like this.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.