The so-called 'Superclasico' between the Los Angeles Galaxy and their roommates at the Home Depot Center, Chivas USA, has evolved into the MLS' premier rivalry.
The matchup pits two rivals sharing a stadium in a city that has done a pretty decent job of embracing the American brand of soccer.
Of course, it doesn't hurt attendance figures that David Beckham has been involved in the last few matchups.
A team always wants to beat a rival in the same city. Just ask Everton, Manchester City, Birmingham, and Tottenham. They, like Chivas, have to compete against clubs in the same town who have been more historically successful (Liverpool, Man Utd., Aston Villa, and Arsenal, respectively—in case you were wondering).
The July 10 edition of the Superclasico was no different. The game started with both teams playing very aggressively. Chivas drew first blood through a beautiful one-touch goal from Ante Razov in the 15th minute (look for this strike to win Goal of the Week. It was that good).
But the one thing that Beckham has brought to this rivalry is his competitive fire. This is a man who would probably cheat at a game of Go Fish if it meant beating his children at it.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. When you've got a bona fide international star with this desire to win, it makes everybody on the field that much better.
Landon Donovan is obviously the biggest beneficiary of Beckham's presence, because it removes almost all of the pressure on him to be the star. Instead of creating most of his own opportunities, like he did without Beckham, Donovan receives pinpoint passes that give him great chances to score.
If you apply the crazy sabermetrics/moneyball/Billy Beane idea to soccer, you'll see that Beckham creates more shots for his teammates than anybody else in MLS.
Chivas is also forced on raising their game. They aren't just about to roll over and let LA win because they've got the big names. Chivas raises their game because of how much it means to beat Donovan and Beckham.
I think a fair comparison is the North Carolina/Duke rivalry. You may laugh, but it works. Even when one of those two was having an off-year, the Duke-UNC game is still a great game.
LA is hemorrhaging goals this year, but they did beat Chivas 5-2 behind a Donovan hat trick earlier in the season. Tonight's matchup has been hugely physical so far (it's the 36th minute as I write this sentence) with plenty of scoring opportunities.
As the first half winds to a close with Chivas leading 1-0, it's obvious that this rivalry is good for the league.
These two teams bring out the best in each other and always draw a good crowd. The league should look at the Superclasico if they want a reason to put another team in New York. It's a great model for intracity rivalries.
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