For nearly a decade, the "SuperClasico" regular-season series between the Galaxy and Chivas USA had produced one of Major League Soccer's great rivalries. But with Chivas USA set to change its name and colors next year as it completes the transition from its previous owner, the team dubbed its final match against the Galaxy "The Last Clasico."
The sentimental description, however, didn't persuade the Galaxy to go easy on Chivas USA.
The Galaxy extended its winning streak to four games, relying on two goals by Gyasi Zardes and another by Robbie Keane to defeat Chivas USA, 3-0, before a crowd of 18,652 at StubHub Center on Sunday night.
Zardes scored in the 41st and 71st minutes, both off assists from Landon Donovan, who received a surfboard and a skateboard as retirement gifts from Chivas USA before the game. Donovan recorded his fourth two-assist game of the season, giving him four helpers in the last two matches.
"The whole team just played well together," said Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena. "This has been a difficult couple of weeks for us…. it's been challenging, very demanding on the team physically, and we've held up."
Zardes pushed his goal total to 12 for the season as the Galaxy stretched its unbeaten streak against Chivas USA (6-13-6) to eight games. The Galaxy (13-5-7) also retook sole possession of second place in the Western Conference with nine games left in the regular season.
Chivas USA, which has been held scoreless in its last six matches, suffered a big blow when leading scorer Erick Torres drew a red card in the 75th minute. Torres, who is scheduled to miss the next two games because of his Mexican national team commitments, now will miss a third game for Chivas USA.
The Galaxy won its season series against Chivas USA, 2-0-1. It ends an era of domination by the four-time MLS champions, who've gone 20-4-7 since the start of the "SuperClasico" in 2005.
Although the Galaxy-Chivas USA "SuperClasico" has been relegated to history, the rivalry is expected to continue. MLS, which purchased Chivas from the previous owners, continues to search for a buyer for the franchise. Chivas USA President Nelson Rodriguez has said keeping the club in the Los Angeles area will be a prerequisite for whoever buys the franchise. If the team's future owner does not relocate the club, a continued rivalry with the Galaxy seems more than certain.
"For us, we knew it was a very important game," said Chivas USA Coach Wilmer Cabrera, in regard to the importance of the last "SuperClasico." "We have great [fan] support, and what I saw on the field, the guys, they tried and they fought."
Besides the win, the other good news for the Galaxy came in the form of Keane being back on the field. The 34-year-old forward sat out Wednesday's win over D.C. United after suffering a strained adductor against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Aug. 23.
Keane entered the game in the 59th minute and scored his team-leading 14th goal nine minutes later on a well-placed lob after splitting two defenders. He then assisted on Zardes' second goal.
Zardes' second tally was probably the easiest he's scored with the Galaxy. A couple of quick passes from Keane and Donovan near the top of the box moved the ball to Zardes, who kicked it from an angle into a nearly wide-open net.