This is the game Southern California MLS fans have long awaited.
I’d like to say there’s a buzz in the air, a sense of anticipation and tension and plenty of concrete expressions of the rivalry that have temporarily divided friends and families.
I’d like to say that, but it wouldn’t be true.
Even soccer fans I’ve talked to this week are more interested in talking Italian soccer than this first-ever MLS playoff series between intra-stadium rivals.
The upper deck at Home Depot Center will remain empty of fans, a stark reminder of the disinterest surrounding the game.
And I know more than a few season ticket holders who aren’t shelling out extra to take in the post-season.
Maybe its the ticket prices (although prices for today’s Chivas USA-hosted game are considerably cheaper than what the Galaxy will charge next Sunday) in a bad economy.
Maybe it’s the general mediocrity of the teams (and MLS).
Maybe people are just too busy on a weekend where Halloween falls on a Saturday.
Maybe I’m reaching here.
But for whatever reason, I’m just not seeing or feeling the excitement a playoff SuperClasico should bring. Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Madrid, this ain’t – yet.
Perhaps the attention (or lack thereof) is an expression of the quality (or lack thereof) of soccer we can expect to see.
Remember the Galaxy have a 12-6-12 record; Chivas USA finished the regular season 13-11-6.
The Galaxy rank 10th in goals scored in MLS, Chivas USA 12th.
“It’s almost at the point now where we want to score so badly, score early and try to kill games off I think guys are maybe over anxious when they get their opportunities instead of just taking their time to place the ball in the net,” Chivas USA (and former Galaxy) defender Ante Jazic said. “That final third is just killing us right now.”
And of course, we have two goalkeepers ranked in the top six in the league, which is all very well, but fans want to see great goals rather than good saves in general.
One possible key to the game: Galaxy central defender Gregg Berhalter. Expect Chivas USA to try to exploit his lack of mobility and speed.
That’s logical, right, Ante?
Answer: “I don’t know the game plan yet.” (big smile)
Follow these links for more info and insight:
And since you’ve read this far, remember the game kicks off at 2 p.m. on ESPN2.
I’ll blog from the stadium as usual.