Nothing can excite a city like a Derby. A sense of pride, a feeling of place and plenty of passion. The Honda SuperClasico is a feud that has been four years in the making and has become one of the most exciting games to watch in MLS. All the ingredients have been added including competitive clubs, world class stars and passionate fans.
The Chivas USA were introduced to Los Angeles as an expansion team in 2005. With historic ties and a winning pedigree inherited from sister Club Deportivo Guadalajara, Chivas USA have been taking MLS by storm. In three short years the team went from bottom to top, winning the Western Conference and qualifying for several prestigious tournaments. However, perhaps the most passionate trophy attained last year was the SuperClasico. The Chivas USA defeated their neighbor, the Los Angeles Galaxy, and won bragging rights in the City of Los Angeles.
In those three years, the Chivas USA have grown with the league. The team currently caters to the Mexican-American market, but is starting to attract interest from everyone with the style of play displayed by the club. The team plays a possession and passing game, not often seen in the MLS. It’s this beautiful style that attracts fans that follow different leagues and international teams.
With the quality of soccer contained by the two clubs in Los Angeles, the biggest rivalry in the league has formed. Historically, the match up has not been pretty. Last year we saw on the field match-ups as England International David Beckham and MLS original Jesse Marsch battled in the midfield. Shoulder charges from Beckham and an irrational challenge from Marsch generated a yellow card. The ejections of both Galaxy defender Kevin Harmse and Chivas USA defender Alex Zotinca due to a confrontation added fuel to the flame.
However, this year is a fresh start and both teams are looking for a win. It hasn’t been easy for either club. Chivas USA have suffered from injury and suspension, missing up to five starting players at times. The LA Galaxy has been trying to find their form, with inconsistent results the past few matches. However, all lights are green for the game this Saturday. Slowly, Chivas USA are getting healthy and stronger while the Galaxy has been finding their form. This should be the most exciting game yet.
Chivas USA are starting to take the shape of the team that was the Western Conference Champion last year. Suspensions and injuries are slowly subsiding. Upcoming MLS star Sacha Kljestan is back in the lineup after a one game suspension. The midfielder is the catalyst for the Chivas USA offense. World Cup veteran Claudio Suarez is training again after a rocky start to the season. Suarez spent the first two weeks of the season in Mexico with family after his father passed away. He then came back to training and a teammate accidentally broke his nose. Claudio will need surgery after the season ends, but is currently training with the team and should make an appearance Saturday night.
Other Chivas USA stars should be back, including midfielder Pancho Mendoza, defender Lawson Vaughn and striker Ante Razov. Razov looks to capture the record for all time MLS goals this season. He is currently in second place, four goals behind DC United veteran Jaime Moreno. Swiss International Raphael Wicky has been dealing with a few injuries but has been training with the team as of late. This new addition in the midfield is one of the strongest acquisitions of the winter. Wicky has played for several European giants, including Hamburg SV, Werder Breman, FC Scion and Athletico Madrid.
The Los Angeles Galaxy is no stranger to stardom. English International David Beckham and all time leading US goal scorer Landon Donovan have paired up this season for a strong partnership. If the Chivas USA can keep this partnership in check, the Chivas USA has a strong chance of success. This responsibility could fall on the shoulders of fan favorite Pancho Mendoza. This speedy midfielder could be responsible for applying pressure to Becks in conjunction with defender Jonathan Bornstein. Thomas will largely be marking Donovan.
Big players show up at big games. And this is no exception. Will this be an easy game for either team? No. Who will win? Probably the fans. These derby’s usually end up exciting and suspenseful.
The three game series starts Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson and should be exciting. If you are in the mood for excellent soccer, great company and the biggest feud in MLS, I will see you at the Home Depot Center Saturday at 7:30.
So come over to the Chivas USA!