Five years was long enough for Chivas USA.
After years and years of domination by the Los Angeles Galaxy against its co-tenants of the Home Depot Center, a stretch which even included a playoff series win over the Goats in 2009, Chivas USA emerged victorious against its more established rivals for the first time since September of 2007. A handball in the penalty box, which resulted in a goal from the spot by Jose Correa enabled Chivas USA to finally celebrate at its neighbors expense with a 1-0 win on Saturday night.
“It’s big,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said of the win. “The only way you get respect is to go out there and earn it, and I thought they did a good job of doing that tonight.”
It had been a busy week for Chivas USA, which spent all of Thursday attempting to turn around the fortunes of a season that was looking dismal every week. First came the trade for veteran Center Back Danny Califf, which was then followed by the trade for promising striker Juan Agudelo from New York. Both players were in the starting lineup, Agudelo played 76 minutes before giving way to Juan Pablo Angel while Califf played the entire match.
“It’s huge confidence wise and huge for this club,” Agudelo said of the win. “Some people underestimate us, but its two teams that fight for the same stadium.”
This time around, it was Chivas USA’s turn to get the breaks, it started in the 70th minute, when Oswaldo Minda played a long ball into the penalty area, Galaxy keeper Brian Perk came out to punch it away, which he did, but also collided with Agudelo, leaving an open net. Striker Jose Correa looked to bury the open netter, but LA Center Back David Junior Lopes handled the ball at the goal line, leaving referee Mark Geiger with no other choice but to whistle for the penalty spot and eventually end Lopes’ night early with a straight red card. Even the penalty shot had its moments, as Corea buried the initially penalty shot, but was called back due to apparent encroachment, but that didn’t stop Corea from burying the second try to put Chivas in front. The Galaxy fought on, but being a man short eventually wore down the Galaxy in the end.
“I thought that was a pretty good game,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “The difference in the game was that we did poorly with the chances we created.”
The first half was even, with Chivas USA outshooting the Galaxy 8-7 during the first 45 minutes. The Galaxy’s best chance came in the opening minutes when a Chivas turnover enabled Marcelo Sarvas to collect a loose ball well inside Chivas territory and shoot for goal, but missed wide left. Chivas USA though came the closest to getting on the scoreboard when Miller Bonalos stole a ball from near midfield and broke for goal. Bolanos then unleashed a laser that beat Brian Perk, but did not beat the near post, instead, bouncing off that post and harmlessly back into play.
“I was really pleased with the way we started out the game,” Fraser said. “We were able to make ourselves pretty dangerous early and for most of the time, it seemed we were on the verge of being very dangerous.”
Both teams have a busy week, as Chivas USA will travel to New York for a showdown with the Red Bulls on Wednesday in a homecoming for Juan Agudelo, while the Galaxy will try to bounce back as the home team, also on Wednesday when they face the San Jose Earthquakes.