Galaxy (15-6-5) at Chivas USA (7-14-4) at Home Depot Center

Let’s face it, neither the high-flying Galaxy nor the basement-dwelling Chivas USA have played particularly flowing soccer lately.

Much of it, in fact, has been downright dire.

So let’s actively go in search of positives for each team.

Reason for the Galaxy to be hopeful in their four-game end of season run-in – they are 4-0 against their remaining opponents this season, having previously beaten Chivas USA, Philadelphia Union, Colorado and FC Dallas.

Reason for Chivas USA to be hopeful in today’s game – the Galaxy have kept just two clean sheets in their last 13 games (having boasted nine shutouts in their first 13 of the season).

The reason Chivas USA won’t lose to the Galaxy – Edson Buddle, the league’s top scorer, and Landon Donovan, the MLS assist leader, haven’t registered a goal or assist since Sept. 11.

The reason the Galaxy won’t lose to Chivas USA – The Galaxy haven’t lost to Chivas USA in nine games dating back three years.

The reason the Galaxy shouldn’t be overly-confident of beating Chivas USA – the Galaxy have failed to score in half of their last six games – and all of their last three losses were shutouts.

The reason Chivas USA shouldn’t believe they can actually beat the Galaxy this time – Chivas USA has failed to score in five of their last seven games, have just three goals during the stretch and have allowed eight goals in their last four games.

Do fans of the respective teams feel better now – or worse?

Let’s just hope it’s an entertaining game.

Back with the lineups in a bit.

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena restores rookie Michael Stephens to the starting lineup in midfield for the first time since he went the full 90 Aug. 28 in the loss to Kansas City.

Gregg Berhalter, despite training virtually every day for the last two weeks is still not deemed match fit, so AJ DeLaGarza gets the start in the center of defense in place of Leonardo, partnering good friend and former Maryland teammate Omar Gonzalez, who has returned from a one-game suspension in place of Yohance Marshall.

Other changes to the starting lineup today include Dema Kovalenko out with an adductor strain, Jovan Kirovski dropping down to the bench and Landon Donovan moving up front to partner Buddle. Chris Birchall is also returned to the midfield.

Galaxy XI: Ricketts, Franklin, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Dunivant, Beckham, Birchall, Juninho, Stephens, Buddle, Donovan.

Bench options include Tristan Bowen, Mike Magee, Eddie Lewis and Alex Cazumba.

Chivas USA are also shuffling the pack with regular starting center backs Dario Delgado (injured) and Michael Umana (suspended) meaning young Carlos Borja gets a rare start alongside Ante Jazic in the center of the defense.

In midfield, Giancarlo Maldonando and Ben Zemanski are preferred to Sal Zizzo and Rodolfo Espinoza (who both drop to the bench).

Chivas USA XI: Thornton, Trujillo, Borja, Jazic, Bornstein, Lahoud, Nagamura, Maldonado, Zemanski, Braun, Gordon.

The game is on ESPN2.

Refresh this page for updates throughout the game.

In a sign this could be a long afternoon for the unfamiliar Chivas USA unit in central defense, Buddle easily beat Borja to a Birchall cross, but poked it just wide from six yards as he stretched for the ball in just the fourth minute.

Chivas USA just hit the post through a Maldonado 17-yard shot in the eighth minute, while the Galaxy retaliated immediately, Buddle hitting the Chivas USA bar just seconds later.

That’s the Gordon we all know – the former Galaxy forward managed to miss from 17 yards, wide-open and with only the goalkeeper to beat in the 13th minute.

Chivas USA 0 Galaxy 1

The Galaxy took a deserved lead in the 24th minute when Juninho won the ball just inside the Galaxy half and passed it to Michael Stephens. The rookie sent an inch-perfect 30 yard ball perfectly into the stride of Edson Buddle who first timed the ball into the net from 17 yards on the half volley.

Lovely move.

Chivas USA 0 Galaxy 2

A world-class free kick by Beckham in the 39th minute has put the Galaxy ahead ahead by two.

Borja blatantly held Buddle just outside the box earning himself a yellow card and the Galaxy a direct free kick from 23 yards. Beckham took it and the ball sailed into the top right hand corner, Thornton unable to stop the shot despite getting his fingertips on it.

Tweeted Alecko Eskandarian:

David Beckham is really good at kicking a soccer ball. I would say that was awesome except I saw it every single day in practice last year.

We’re still trying to find out the last time Beckham scored a MLS goal from a free kick.

It was on the road against Real Salt Lake in May 2008 that Beckham last scored an MLS goal from a free kick.

Chivas USA made two changes at the half, Maldonado and Zemanski coming out for Espinoza and Jorge Flores.

Chivas USA 1 Galaxy 2

A horrible Ricketts error has let Chivas USA back in this one after the game appeared to be fizzling out, Gordon scoring with a 10-yard header in the 63rd minute. Ricketts was caught off his line in a terrible miscalculation.

The Galaxy are down to 10 men in the 77th minute after Lewis tackles Espinoza and then comes down atop the Chivas sub.That looked very harsh and Arena is furious.

But this is Chivas USA’s opportunity.

Final: Chivas USA 1 Galaxy 2

Chivas USA’s season is officially over.

Edson Buddle is now tied with Roy Lassiter for seventh on the all-time MLS scoring list with 88 goals.

Next for the Galaxy: at Philadelphia Union Thursday.

More later.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!