Galaxy stays unbeaten with Goats win
Although the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA both play at Home Depot Center, everybody knows which club really runs this stadium.
The star-studded Galaxy never lost on this pitch during their historic regular season, and they're hoping the streak continues all the way through the MLS Cup here next month.
Chad Barrett scored in the 53rd minute, Josh Saunders earned his eighth shutout, and the Galaxy wrapped up the third unbeaten home season in MLS history with a 1-0 victory over the Goats on Sunday night.
Los Angeles (19-4-10) already clinched the Supporters' Shield and the top playoff seed with MLS' best regular-season record, and the Galaxy secured the SuperClasico trophy in its rivalry series with a 2-0 aggregate victory over Chivas.
Yet the Galaxy still want one more trophy after going 12-0-5 this season at home.
''We've always said we want to make our stadium somewhere to come that's hard to win, and I think we've done that,'' David Beckham said. ''We've worked hard on that, and it's important that we perform in our own stadium.''
While Beckham played the whole match, fellow superstars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane sat out. Donovan, selected as the Galaxy's team MVP in a postgame ceremony, is resting a strained quadriceps that kept him out of two recent U.S. national team games, while Keane is resting a torn thigh muscle.
The match also might have been the final regular-season home appearance by Beckham, whose five-year MLS contract expires after the season. The Galaxy remain hopeful the English superstar will extend his stay in Hollywood, but Beckham has said he won't decide his future until the offseason.
Beckham reiterated that stance after leaving the pitch with his three sons. He also said he plans to travel to Honduras for Thursday's CONCACAF Champions League meeting with Motagua.
He's more focused on a big finish to the Galaxy's remarkable MLS season.
Los Angeles has 67 points in the MLS standings, the most by any club since the league abandoned the shootout after the 1999 season. The Galaxy could set the league record with 70 points if they win next week's season finale in Houston.
Saunders made four saves as Los Angeles also tied the MLS record for shutouts in a season with 17, matching the Kansas City Wizards' mark in 2000.
''I think this is a difficult place to play,'' defender Todd Dunivant said. ''We've made this our fortress, and you can see that when we play Chivas. The Clasico means a lot to us, and we showed that.''
Defender Gregg Berhalter served as the Galaxy's captain in his final home game. The 38-year-old U.S. national team veteran has announced he'll retire after the season.
The Galaxy have won eight straight at home while posting 10 shutouts this season, outscoring their opponents 28-8. Los Angeles is unbeaten in 18 straight regular-season home games overall, the fourth-longest streak in MLS history.
''We weren't really even thinking about that,'' said Barrett, who scored both of Los Angeles' goals this season against Chivas. ''It's more about the SuperClasico and Gregg playing his last game.''
Chivas has improved under new coach Robin Fraser, but the Goats will miss the playoffs for the second straight year. Los Angeles is 7-0-3 in its past 10 games in the SuperClasico.
''At the end of the day, this is a rivalry,'' Fraser said. ''They are (located) 50 yards away from us. We viewed this as a game that was extremely important, and certainly the result was disappointing.''
After failing to convert a couple of golden chances in the first half, Barrett banged home a short-range header on a crossing pass from fellow forward Adam Cristman early in the second half.
Although the Galaxy acquired Keane to bolster their offense, Barrett has done the job lately with three goals in four games.
Keane, who has two goals and an assist in his first four games for Los Angeles, missed a Euro 2012 qualifier for Ireland last week. The Irish national team captain, who moved to the Galaxy from Tottenham in August, is resting his legs with hopes of a postseason return to the Galaxy.
Juan Pablo Angel, the veteran striker traded by the Galaxy when they acquired Keane, couldn't score against his former team. Angel has seven goals in eight games for Chivas after struggling in his first few months with the Galaxy.
''They are probably the strongest defensive team in the league,'' Angel said. ''It was the difference between a team who is the reigning Supporters' Shield champions and a team who has had its ups and downs.''