CARSON, Calif. – The playoffs may no longer be a possibility for last-place Chivas USA, but that doesn’t mean the Rojiblancos won’t play an important role in the Western Conference race.
They can put a big dent into the playoff hopes of the LA Galaxy on Sunday afternoon in the third leg of the SuperClásico at the StubHub Center (5 pm ET, UniMás). A win for the Goats would give them a season split against their rivals for the first time since 2007.
“It’s one of those things where you throw the records out the window because usually it will be a close game,” defender Bobby Burling told MLSsoccer.com. “Anytime you get together with a familiar opponent, it’s going to be hectic at times. Maybe there will be some cards here or there. You just never know what to expect, but we’ve got to treat it like another game.”
The Rojiblancos have beaten the Galaxy only once in the last six seasons. Head coach José Luis “Güero” Real knows a surprise win Sunday would generate some much-needed momentum heading into 2014 and also complicate their rivals' postseason chase, though that’s not the main focus.
“For us, the most important thing is showing well and competing to win,” Real told MLSsoccer.com. “We’re not thinking about anything extra, but simply just doing things well. We want to make our fans happy with a good showing. We’re not thinking about [the Galaxy] not making the playoffs. That doesn’t matter. We just have to make the best of this situation.”
Chivas USA earned a draw in the first meeting despite being down man and then fell, 1-0, in the second matchup. The scores alone suggest they have held their own this year.
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“It’s different,” midfielder Bryan de la Fuente told MLSsoccer.com. “You play with more passion and pride.”
Sunday’s game will mark the start of season-ending stretch against three teams currently in the playoff picture: fourth-place Galaxy, first-place Real Salt Lake (Oct. 23) and the third-place Portland Timbers (Oct. 26).
“At this point, we’re just trying to build a little cohesiveness heading into next year and put together some positive results,” Burling said. “But at the same time, we want to play spoiler.”