CARSON, Calif. – Count Robbie Keane among those impressed with how Chivas USA have improved their roster and built a team capable of competing in MLS' Western Conference.
He hopes Goats fans have noticed, too, and that Chivas' encouraging performances in the first month of the season lures them en masse to StubHub Center for Sunday's first SuperClasico showdown this season between the cross-stadium rivals (3 pm ET; UniMas).
These games, he said, can be special.
“They're special if you've got 28,000 people there. When there's 7,000 or 8,000 people, it's a little bit different,” the Galaxy's captain said following Thursday morning's training session. “To create a rivalry, it's not just about the game. I think it's about the whole buildup to the game, the whole atmosphere, and the atmosphere comes from people coming out, the fans watching the game.
“Certainly, it's an LA Galaxy home game, you can guarantee there will be a lot of fans there, so I certainly hope there's going to be a lot of Chivas fans there supporting their team because this is a good rivalry and we want to compete at the highest level, and we need the Chivas fans there to support their team.”
- RIVALRY WEEK: Chivas USA-LA Galaxy SuperClasico, Sun. 3 pm ET, UniMas
Chivas, technically the home team Sunday, drew home crowds of more than 10,000 just twice last season, with 14,575 announced for the Galaxy on June 23 and 11,024 for the season finale against Portland. They announced 8,320 and 6,684 for their first two home games this year.
The hope is new ownership and a significantly upgraded team will bring Chivas USA fans back to the stadium this year, and Keane wants to see it happen now.
“I like it when there's 28,000 people there because I'm brought up with that. That's why I play,” said the Irishman, who has been part of some big rivalries in Britain, including Tottenham-Arsenal, Liverpool-Everton and Celtic-Rangers. “Week in and week out in England, 60,000 or 70,000 or 80,000 people, and the atmosphere builds, and that's why people get excited for the game.
"When there's 6,000 people, it's very difficult to get yourself up for a game like that.”
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Boos sound as good as cheers in a crowd so large and passionate.
“I love it. I absolutely love it,” Keane said. “Even when we go up to Seattle. Last year there were 60,000 people there, and you're getting booed all the time. It's great, it's creating an atmosphere. That's why we play the game. ...
"When 60,000 people are booing you – how can you not like that? I love it when people hammer me and stuff like that. It's great. It's all part of what we do.”