Galaxy Defeats Chivas USA in the Battle for LA

October 4, 2010

Carson, California -- On Sunday, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA went to war on the pitch in a nationally televised game for the right to lift the SuperClasico trophy this season. The trophy has belonged to the Galaxy the past 2 seasons, thanks to a David Beckham game-winning goal last year in the 80th minute of the final game between the two sides.

Coming into Sunday’s game, the Galaxy had won their first 2010 game against Chivas USA, 2-0, behind two goals from current MLS scoring leader Edson Buddle.

Sunday's second and final game of the SuperClasico got off to a furious pace with each team having chances to score early.

In the 4th minute, Chris Birchall delivered a great ball from the right side to Buddle, who just missed the far post with his left foot.

Chivas USA would respond in the 8th minute when Giancarlo Maldonado put an excellent shot on target with his left foot from just inside the 18-yard box. The shot flew past the outstretched arms of Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, but bounced off the post and went behind the end line.

Seconds later, David Beckham put Buddle in a brilliant position to score on Chivas USA’s goalkeeper Zach Thornton with a pass through the defense, however, the Buddle chip shot and seemingly sure goal bounced off the crossbar and back into Chivas USA’s control.

Again, Chivas USA fought back when former Galaxy player Alan Gordon found himself alone at the top of the 18-yard box in the 13th minute. Gordon sent in a shot that Ricketts was unable to reach, but it was off target, leaving the fans to wonder which side would score first following such great opportunities in the opening minutes.

Earlier in the week, Landon Donovan told reporters that it would important for the Galaxy to play well at the start of Sunday's game in an effort to shut down and discourage Chivas USA’s freewheeling attitude.

Donovan's Galaxy teammates would meet that objective in the 24th minute when rookie and ex-UCLA Bruin Michael Stephens sent a superb pass from the midfield over the Chivas USA defense to the feet of Edson Buddle. Buddle then crushed a shot into the back of the net from the top of the 18-yard box, giving the Galaxy a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, the calls by the referees in this SuperClasico match would be a storyline as well.

In the 32nd minute, Buddle crossed the ball up field to Birchall, who suddenly was alone in the box with two Chivas USA defenders and Landon Donovan trailing from behind. Birchall stopped and delivered a cross to Donovan in the 6-yard box, but the cross did not make it to Donovan because the ball hit the arm of a Chivas USA defender. No call was made by head referee Jair Marrufo.

In the 38th minute, Buddle was prevented from shooting a breakaway shot on goal by Chivas USA defender Carlos Borja, who deliberately put a wrestling tackle on Buddle. Marrufo merely gave Borja a yellow card for a foul that easily could have merited Borja an early trip to the locker room.

More importantly, however, the foul provided the Galaxy with a David Beckham free-kick opportunity from approximately 25 yards away.

Beckham would promptly remind the crowd of more than 24,000 of his legacy and ability to strike world-class free kicks. Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton guessed correctly by jumping to the left corner of goal where Beckham had aimed the free-kick over the defending wall. It did not matter though, as the free-kick had enough pace behind it to deflect off Thornton’s hand and into goal to put the Galaxy up 2-0 in the 39th minute.

The goal was Beckham’s first of the 2010 season.

In the second half, Chivas USA came out firing, as Alan Gordon headed a cross on target in the 46th minute that his ex-teammate Ricketts barely saved.

Then in the 51st minute, Jonathan Bornstein, captain of Chivas USA and a member of the U.S. National Team, sent a great cross to Rodolfo Espinoza who didn’t miss the goal by much.

However, in the 63rd minute Chivas USA would change the tone of the game when Gordon headed a Bornstein cross past Ricketts to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Galaxy coach Bruce Arena and defender Todd Dunivant both would later argue in the post-game press conference that Gordon was offsides. Replays supported their position and clearly showed that the referees had made the wrong call in allowing the Chivas USA goal.

Following the Gordon goal, the momentum swung in favor of Chivas USA, as Beckham was substituted out of the game, Juninho shot a free-kick well off target, and Chivas USA tried to turn up the heat on the Galaxy.

In the 76th minute, Chivas USA's hopes grew even greater as Eddie Lewis was wrongfully ejected from the game with a red card from head referee Marrufo.

Chivas USA midfielder Rodolfo Espinoza went in studs up on a tackle against Lewis, and Lewis jumped to avoid the reckless challenge, accidentally landing on Espinoza’s chest with his cleats. Both benches from each team cleared with players and coaches shoving and shouting at each other, and at Marrufo.

Perhaps Marrufo tried to rectify his poor call by giving Espinoza a yellow card for the play, but the damage had been done, as the Galaxy were forced to play with 10 men for the last 15 minutes of the SuperClasico.

But the Galaxy are not the 2009 MLS Western Conference Champions for nothing, as Omar Gonzalez, Sean Franklin, Todd Dunivant, and A.J. DeLaGarza stepped up with some solid defense in the game's final minutes. Also, Edson Buddle controlled the ball against the Chivas USA defense in an effort to slow the game down and prevent any counterattacks.

The Galaxy ultimately held on for a 2-1 victory, raising the SuperClasico trophy in front of their many fans who showed up to this Chivas USA home game.

With the win, the Galaxy improved to 16-6-5, and will face the Philadelphia Union on the road this Thursday. Chivas USA dropped to 7-15-4 with the loss, and will play Toronto FC at home on Saturday.

Post Game Quotes and Commentary

1. Bruce Arena complimented his players on a great effort and performance, while rightfully criticizing the referees’ decisions during the game.

2. When asked about his free-kick, David Beckham explained that his constant practice of these situations enables him to perform such set pieces.

3. Chivas USA head coach Martin Vasquez commented that his team battled against the best team in MLS, and now that Chivas USA is eliminated from the playoff race, they will start to build for a successful year next season.

4. And finally, a few words on David Beckham . . .

Beckham suffered a brutal Achilles tear just a few months before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. However, he tirelessly worked to rehab his injury and returned ahead of schedule in order to contribute to this Galaxy team in the final months of their season. Additionally, Beckham was sick during the week, but he practiced hard and was in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game.

Beckham has faced criticism in the past couple seasons for his commitment to the LA Galaxy, but his willingness and dedication to push himself physically continues to disprove those critics.

By Brian Kowalski
Contributing Writer for

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