Chivas USA-Galaxy Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
STATS Senior Writer
(AP) -- It's always special when the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA meet in the SuperClasico.
Now there are major playoff implications at stake.
These Home Depot Center co-tenants are separated by four points in the standings heading into their second 2012 meeting Saturday night.
Los Angeles (8-10-3) has 27 points for fifth place and the Western Conference's final postseason spot, while Chivas USA (6-7-5) is sixth with 23 points and has three games in hand.
The matchup means enough to Chivas due to the rivalry.
"We're the red-headed stepchild," defender Danny Califf told Chivas' official website. "It's probably not as big a game for them as it is for us. Actually, I'm almost certain of that, but we use that as motivation."
Chivas ended a 12-game winless run in this series with a 1-0 victory May 19. Jose Erik Correa converted a penalty kick in the 72nd minute awarded when the Galaxy's David Junior Lopes was ejected for a handball in the box.
Chivas owns the league's best defense in yielding 1.0 goals per game, although its offense is the worst in MLS with 12 goals in 18 matches. Dan Kennedy has posted three straight shutouts with no goals allowed in 318 minutes.
"These Clasico games are crazy so we just need to make sure we come in, are focused and take care of business," Kennedy said. "Without a doubt, we need to make sure we take advantage of these. This is where we could really do some damage."
Shutting out Los Angeles will be a challenge. The Galaxy have not been blanked in 10 games since losing to Chivas, totaling nine goals during a 2-0-1 stretch.
David Beckham has scored four goals over his last three games. He and Jose Villarreal tallied in the final nine minutes Wednesday as Los Angeles rallied for a 2-all tie at Vancouver.
"It's always nice to get a goal," said Beckham, who has two goals in 10 games against Chivas. "I've scored a couple in the last few games, and it's been enjoyable, because I'm not used to it."
While Kennedy has excelled, Josh Saunders has given up 11 goals over his last five starts for Los Angeles.
"You learn from the negatives and you learn from the positives so it's just one of those things where you continue to work and don't let your guard down," Saunders said.
His shaky Galaxy defense would be better if reigning MLS defender of the year Omar Gonzalez plays Saturday. Gonzalez sat out the last three games due to knee problems that have limited him to one contest in 2012.
Former Galaxy forward Juan Pablo Angel is Chivas' top scorer with three goals. Chivas ranks last in the league with an average of 2.9 shots on goal and had two in Wednesday's 1-0 home win over Portland, improving to 2-0-2 in its last four games and 3-1-5 in its previous nine.
"As we continue to grow as an attacking team, it's important that we feel like we can keep ourselves in a game," said coach Robin Fraser, a two-time MLS defender of the year. "There is that belief because we have been able to get a few shutouts."
Los Angeles is Saturday's home team.
Updated July 20, 2012