CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy knew what was coming from Chivas USA, they just didn't deal with it as they planned to, and therein lies their inability to claim all three points from Sunday afternoon's SuperClasico at the Home Depot Center.
Chivas physically tested their archrivals from the start, disrupting LA's approach at every opportunity, and turning the match into a stop-and-start drill that paid them dividends in an ugly 1-1 draw.
“It was kind of like American football,” Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza surmised. “You get the ball, and you foul. You get the ball, and you tackle.”
Chivas' Oswaldo Minda limped off five minutes after one tackle, on Mike Magee, who said he thought the big Ecuadorian midfielder “was going to try to end me” and that “For the first time in my life, I kind of smiled when the guy was leaving the field.”
“I don't know if the ref knew it was coming today,” Magee said. “Everyone knew exactly what they were going to do, and it was just [that] they slowed the game down from the hop. They were taking cheap shots and trying to force their will that way. They played exactly how we thought they would, we just played the opposite of how we thought they would.”
Referee Ricardo Salazar whistled Chivas for 22 fouls – to just eight by the Galaxy – handed out four yellow cards when he could have issued far more, and sent off Chivas center back Joaquín Velázquez after a 40th-minute collision with Colin Clark, who said his foe should not have received a red card (although, Magee noted, “three others probably should have gotten red cards”). Arena said Salazar “could have done a little better job understanding the game from the beginning, with the fouling and the time-wasting and that.”
The Galaxy grudgingly paid their respects to Chivas' game plan and how well it was executed.
“Certainly give them credit,” Arena said. “They played real hard, they got in on every play. There was a lot of fouling [and Salazar] didn't get all of them, either. They fouled us as much as they could and got away with as much as they could. That's all part of the game – it's not surprising. Going into the game, their style of play, that's what we anticipated. There's no excuses on our part.”
“Every ball, every fall, every ball go out, [Chivas] take time,” midfielder Marcelo Sarvas said. “I don't know, maybe probably we played like 30, 45 minutes max. They came, they did their job. Just defend, kick ball away, and we weren't good enough to break this and score. ... I think they studied our team, you know? They close [space]. I didn't have much space. Every time I have the ball, I always have someone behind me. They destroyed very well today. It was their game.”
So which lessons do the Galaxy take from the game?
“There is no lesson this game,” Sarvas replied. “I didn't see anything. It was one team trying to play, the other team trying to destroy.”