The Ups and Downs of the MLS Super Clasico

LA's Jack McBean during the 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on March 17, 2013. Credit: David Bernal - ISIPhotos.com

By Luis Bueno - RIVERSIDE, CA (Oct 2, 2013) US Soccer Players - When the LA Galaxy meet intra-stadium rivals Chivas USA on Sunday, it might be a chance for the also-rans to deal the heavyweights a fatal blow on their trip to the postseason. Instead, it’s likely another missed opportunity for Chivas USA in a season full of them.

The latest version of the Super Clasico will garner the expected attention due to the novelty of the situation. Only two teams share a city and a stadium in MLS, after all. Still, if the pattern continues, the Galaxy will have no problem pushing aside a hapless Chivas USA.

Instead of a potentially exciting rivalry match, Galaxy – Chivas USA will serve as another reminder of what grandness this series could hold.

Once, this series was exciting and there was a bit of a back-and-forth between the two sides. The Galaxy dominated the first year, but Chivas USA came back with a combined three wins over the Galaxy in 2006-07.

That was about it. Chivas USA was no match in 2008. When the two teams met in the 2009 playoffs, the Galaxy nabbed a victory from which Chivas USA have not recovered.

Chivas USA only have four all-time victories over the Galaxy, with just one coming after the 2007 season. The Galaxy had a 12-match unbeaten run over Chivas USA snapped last year when Chivas USA beat a hapless Galaxy squad in May by 1-0. The Galaxy though recovered and pummeled Chivas USA twice, by scores of 3-1 and 4-0, and restored order to the rivalry.

There were brief signs of life from Chivas USA this season. In March, Chivas USA equalized in dramatic fashion when local product Carlos Alvarez scored his first MLS goal in helping secure a 1-1 draw. With Jose Luis "Chelis" Sanchez Sola in charge of the club then, and a local kid helping Chivas USA get one over on the Galaxy, certainly the seeds were sewn for what could be an upturn in the rivalry. If nothing else, Chelis would add color and provide some drama leading into Super Clasicos.

Instead, Chivas USA' own instability made sure that did not happen. Chelis was gone by the time the Galaxy sought revenge, fired more than one month prior to their June meeting. A workmanlike Galaxy squad brushed aside the prior result and claimed a 1-0 victory.

Since then, Chivas USA continued to sink and the Galaxy surged, which is another odd wrinkle in the series. Aside from 2009, one side has been in contention, battling for a playoff spot, perhaps even Supporters’ Shield, while the other finds itself mired at the bottom of the table.

In 2005, the Galaxy was strong while Chivas USA suffered. From 2006-08, Chivas USA pieced together some very strong playoff teams while the Galaxy became a laughingstock. From 2010 until now, the Galaxy has been the class of MLS with Chivas USA regressing terribly.

The problem for the Super Clasico is getting both teams in contention at the same time. That hasn’t happened often enough, leading to games like Sunday’s. While the Galaxy try to secure a playoff spot, Chivas USA is playing for pride. That’s not enticing. There is no intrigue. No hope for spectacle. There is only a team who should - and probably will - beat another team.

There is nothing super about that.


Luis Bueno is a veteran soccer writer. Follow him on twitter @BuenoSoccer.

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