By Josh Ouellette
Well now that the Premier League season is over soccer fans around the world can focus on two things. One: The UEFA Champions League Final, which is always one of the best matches of the year. Two: The MLS season is in full swing, and for Angelino’s that means the LA Galaxy are probably playing pretty well… and they are.
My first point is only made stronger because not only is the Champions League Final the sports ultimate trophy, only possibly behind winning the World Cup, but it is also another edition of the Madrid Derby. Atlético Madrid takes on Real Madrid on May 28 in Milan, Italy, and it will be the second time in three years these teams will face off in the Final.
Atlético will be looking for revenge after leading 1-0 for most of the 2014 final before Real Madrid equalized in stoppage time and then went on to a crushing 4-1 win in added extra time. I remember. It was pretty sad for an Atlético side that arguably deserved to lift the trophy.
Atlético also had to beat out the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich for another shot at their cross-town rivals. Meaning they deserve to be here with Real.
This leads me to something that will be happening in a few summers. The LA Galaxy will be squaring off with the City of Angels’ soon-to-be other MLS team, LAFC.
While Galaxy fans had an in-town rival before when Chivas USA called Los Angeles its home, it didn’t quite have the same aura about the rivalry because Chivas always felt like the little brother who shared a room, literally sharing the StubHub Center (then it was the Home Depot Center) as a home stadium.
Now LAFC will have a soccer-specific stadium in the city, creating another possibly hostile atmosphere for the Galaxy, as opposed to the extra home games Bruce Arena’s squad got to play against Chivas USA. At least that’s how it always felt to a Galaxy fan.
And despite some early success and big names like former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley coaching the team and current MLS star Sacha Kljestan getting his start with the Chivas USA, the club fizzled out and was eventually disbanded. Which was a relief because when less than 10,000 fans show up one weekend and then the stadium is packed the next… Let’s just say it was bad for the MLS’ image.
I can’t lie. I’m pretty excited about LAFC for a couple of reasons. The financial backing the team will have is impressive with the likes of Peter Guber and Vincent Tan–who dropped $100 million to buy out the Chivas USA franchise and create a new expansion team–along with star-studded co-owners like Will Ferrell, Nomar Garciaparra and his wife Mia Hamm, and Magic Johnson.
The reason Chivas USA failed was because it always seemed to be settled on a rocky foundation, which is something I highly doubt will happen with LAFC thanks to the people involved.
So while it won’t quite boast the gravitas of the Madrid Derby, a true Los Angeles Derby (which was formerly called the SuperClasico though I’ve always preferred the El Clasico Angelino descriptor for the match) will be exciting to watch. It may not have a 212-match history dating back to 1928 like the Madrid Derby does, but one day there could be the type of air at the StubHub Center or LAFC’s soon-to-be-built home as there is at the Santiago Bernabéu, Vincente Calderón Stadium, or in Milan later this month.
Catching Up With the Galaxy: LA fought to a 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union last week thanks to an unlikely goal from Robbie Rogers and a Mike Magee strike.
The good news is LA’s two goals were fine examples of passing prowess and ingenuity to lead to great shots. The bad news is that the Galaxy gave up two goals they shouldn’t have on rebounded efforts and the Union had a couple of great chances late that could’ve changed the game if they’d been on target.
While a draw with Philadelphia is no shameful thing, the Galaxy still needs to show that they can continually beat the other top-tier teams in the MLS if they are going to win another MLS Cup this season. Which is a pretty obvious statement. But with the talent-laden side, LA has right now it should be a relative cakewalk to make it to the MLS Playoffs.
The Galaxy’s next meeting is the California Clasico vs. San Jose this Sunday at the StubHub Center. If anyone wants to buy me a ticket I’m there.
But then again… I’m just joshing around.
Josh Ouellette is a self-proclaimed lover of the Beautiful Game who feverously supports West Ham United (Premier League) and the LA Galaxy (MLS). His thoughts and opinions are his own and if you have any thoughts on his opinions he can be reached via Twitter (@JoshoYouKnow).