After knocking off one conference leader, Chivas USA is brimming with confidence as the club gets ready to take on another in what should be a more emotional game.
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Chivas is looking to end an eight-game winless run against red-hot Landon Donovan and the Los Angeles Galaxy when The Home Depot Center co-tenants meet Saturday night in the latest edition of the SuperClasico.
Chivas USA (3-3-3) has won three of four after Justin Braun’s first career hat trick was the difference in a 3-2 victory at Eastern Conference-leading New York on Sunday.
Los Angeles (5-2-5), however, is 5-0-3 in the series since a 3-0 loss Sept. 13, 2007. The West-leading Galaxy outscored Chivas 4-1 in their two wins last season, although Edson Buddle scored three goals in those matches and is no longer with the club.
Chivas is eager to measure itself this year against its high-profile rival.
"It’s going to be high-energy, the fans will be great, the stadium will be perfect, the atmosphere, it’s everything you want in a game," Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said. "So it’s going to be fun."
Slowing down Donovan will be a key to Chivas’ chances. Donovan has a league-leading seven goals after scoring twice in last Saturday’s 4-1 home victory over Sporting Kansas City. All of his goals have come in the Galaxy’s last five matches.
"Landon is doing a great job," coach Bruce Arena said. "He does whatever we need to be better as a team and be successful on the night. And he’s taken on the responsibility of scoring goals again."
David Beckham returned to the lineup last weekend as Los Angeles ended a three-game winless slide. The superstar scored his first goal, and he’s been instrumental during the Galaxy’s dominance in this series.
"It’s great for the sport when teams are playing well and they come up against each other," Beckham told the Galaxy’s official website. "If you want to be successful, you have to match yourself against the teams that are playing well."
Arena used backup Josh Saunders in goal last week with Donovan Ricketts unavailable due to illness. Ricketts could return Saturday.
Ricketts and the Los Angeles defense should be tested by a Chivas attack that has come alive in the last four games after producing one goal over its previous four.
This game also marks the first SuperClasico for first-year Chivas coach Robin Fraser, a former longtime Galaxy defender. Fraser also played under Arenas for the U.S. national team from 1998-2001.
"I understand there’s great passion between the fans, which is great, and I think it makes for a great stadium, no question," Fraser said. "But at the end of the day like I said, I think for myself and for the team, the focus is continued improvement."