The Galaxy played its role to the hilt once again: running endlessly if somewhat mindlessly, falling behind in the first half, pushing forward aggressively only to squander enough chances to win, and succumbing to a pair of late goals. Final score: Chivas USA 3, Los Angeles 0. Sound familiar?
The same teams played in the same Thursday night time slot three weeks ago to the same scoreline. A raucous, colorful, crowd announced at 23,328 - which is about the actual capacity of the seating areas that don't include the grassy berm behind the north goal - threw confetti and streamers on the field and unfurled a massive Chivas banner at the start of the second half.
It covered the the entire section behind the north goal. Incredible! In the first game since Shawn Hunter took over from former president and CEO Javier Leon, the attendance -- even if inflated as per MLS policy -- matched performance. (And to be fair, Chivas USA's announced figures have seldom approached the Galaxy's in terms of incredulousness.)
The Galaxy trailed only, 1-0, at that point. It had started well enough, but in the 23rd minute Lawson Vaughn slipped Ante Razov into space on the right flank and the ex-Galaxy forward nicked inside Abel Xavier to drill a shot that deflected off keeper Joe Cannon and hit the inside the of the far post on its way into the net.
The Galaxy, prompted by some scything runs by Landon Donovan, came out breathing fire for the second half and pushed Chivas USA back repeatedly. But the curse continues. Pete Vagenas slid a fantastic through ball that Carlos Pavon, gliding through the penalty arc towards goal, flat-out missed. Pavon misfired on a header.
So did Gavin Glinton. Donovan slalomed through five opponents and pushed a ball to the left side for Kyle Martino, who shot past the far post instead of returning the ball to a beseeching Donovan. In the first half, Xavier - completely unmarked - volleyed a Donovan corner kick over the crossbar.
From about 10 yards out. During the 90 minutes, the Galaxy took 10 shots, and on several occasions - such as Pavon's feeble effort on the through ball - utterly destroyed an opportunity through sheer ineptitude.
Total shots on goal: one. Chivas USA tacked on a pair of late goals: Sacha Kljestan dribbed through midfield before slotting a diagonal ball that Francisco Mendoza drilled low past Cannon. Laurent Merlin's first MLS goal, in stoppage time, prompted Cannon to kick the ball high into the stands behind the goal, from whence the giant banner had originated.
Up in a VIP box, David Beckham - who chatted amiably during a halftime TV interview - watched in disbelief as chance after chance yielded only frustration. But this team needs something besides Beckham, or a few more new players, or a new coach. It needs an exorcist. Sept. 13 in Carson, Calif.
Chivas USA 3 Los Angeles 0.
Goals: Razov (Vaughn) 23, Mendoza (Kljestan) 88, Merlin 91+.
Chivas USA - Guzan, Vaughn, Suarez (Hernandez, 46), Thomas, Bornstein, Kljestan, Marsch, Nagamura, Mendoza, Galindo (Cunliffe, 80), Razov (Merlin, 82).
Los Angeles - Cannon, Klein, Harden, Xavier, Randolph, Jones (Roberts, 58), Donovan, Vagenas, Martino (Sesay, 89), Pavon (Glinton, 66), Gordon. Yellow Cards: Chivas USA - Marsch 2, Nagamura 83; Los Angeles - Donovan 53, Xavier 69, Vagenas 71.
Referee: Alex Prus.