CARSON, Calif. – Not a lot has gone Chivas USA’s way in their history against the LA Galaxy.
The two clubs’ MLS Cup playoff and US Open Cup meetings have all gone the Galaxy’s way while more than half of their regular-season meetings have ended in LA victories.
So it hasn't been often that Chivas have had the chance to make history against their in-stadium rivals, but Sunday such an opportunity will present itself. With a win, the Rojiblancos would claim the season series over the Galaxy for just the second time ever.
That the result could also have a significant impact in the playoff race only ramps up the significance of Sunday's clash (11 pm ET, ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“It’s probably the most important game for us so far this year,” Chivas USA captain Danny Califf told MLSsoccer.com. “Not only will it put us within four points of them with four games in hand, it’s just the simple rivalry and us feeling in general that we’re playing second fiddle all the time. The fans feel it, we feel it.”
In May, Chivas beat the Galaxy and snapped a winless skid against them that dated back to 2007. The Galaxy, though, claimed their last meeting by a 3-1 count on July 21. A draw or loss and the series would go in LA’s favor yet again, but victory would be a historic accomplishment.
And when the chance is there to make such noise, why not take it?
“There is a true rivalry when the opposite team is 20 yards away from you.,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. “We’re sharing the same space so and we see each other every day so there’s always going to be that feeling of who wants to be on top any given year. To be in the position to do so, it’s something we want to take advantage of.”
To be able to snatch the trophy back and give their ardent supporters some hardware drives Chivas players.
“Every time we step on the field, every time we step on the practice pitch, we want to represent them well, we want to represent the club well, we want to represent ourselves well,” Chivas USA defender James Riley told MLSsoccer.com. “Anytime we have the chance to win hardware and have them have a trophy to lift up, it’s significant.”
While the first series victory was groundbreaking, this trophy may have been the more difficult one to earn. The Galaxy were a poor side in 2007, in the midst of their second of three consecutive seasons outside the playoffs. This time around, they are MLS Cup and Supporters' Shield holders.
After a rocky start to 2012, the Galaxy have also done well to get back into the playoff positions, sitting in the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot heading into the weekend’s game.
But sixth-place Chivas are looking to edge past their rivals in the race for a playoff spot. To do so while nabbing the SuperClasico trophy in the process would undoubtedly be something from which the club could draw confidence.
“It’s the little victories,” Califf said. “Everyone realizes how important this is in the span of the season but that little victory of taking back the season crown and really doing it in an era when they’re trying to pull away, they’re spending a lot of money, they’re really trying to differentiate themselves and all that, it’s important for us to let them know that we’re the big dogs right now. That’s important to us.”
Luis Bueno covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.