MLS Rivalry Week backstories: LA Galaxy vs. Chivas USA

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If we examine the back stories on how rivalries achieve their deliciously acrimonious state – real rivalries, that is, and not the manufactured ones fans tend to sniff out and disregard with extreme prejudice – they usually check the box on one or more of the elements you see in the box below.

Here we look at the Chivas USA-LA Galaxy, and which boxes get checked in the Los Angeles derby:

The teams meet at 5 p.m. ET Sunday at the Home Depot Center.

source:

The backstory:

Inner city derbies are the stuff of soccer legend. Two teams competing for the soccer soul of a town? Yes, that’s wonderfully provocative stuff.

But what if the logistical proximity is mightier still? When you share a facility – and not just on game day, but every doggone day of the week – there’s bound to be some tension.

There certainly is with Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy, Major League Soccer’s version of El Clasico.

There’s a culture clash here, one that goes beyond the usual crankiness of opposing supporters groups. The Galaxy has attempted to establish itself as the league’s glamour team (and they’ve done a pretty good job of it – or perhaps you haven’t heard that David Beckham played six seasons in the Galaxy kit?). In that regard, Chivas USA fans like to see themselves as soccer fans, wondering aloud it the Galaxy is more about glitz?

From a Chivas USA supporter in the MLSSoccer.com piece linked above: “They used to be a team that represents Los Angeles, but not anymore. They should change their name to the Hollywood Galaxy. Most of their “fans” (not all of them) have no clue of what soccer really is.”

Given the Goats poor launch in 2005 (four wins in 32 matches … yuk!), this one might have lacked some competitiveness early. Luckily, Bob Bradley’s introduction as head coach created stability, and the back-and-forth was on.

Oh, and there was Jesse Marsch.

The hard-nosed Chivas USA midfielder gave this rivalry the hostile moment it needed to really catch fire in a clash with Beckham. Back in 2007, Marsch launched a naughty boot toward the global icon, nearly stirring up a full-fledged donnybrook between the sides.

Good times!

And definitely a good derby rivalry.

Sunday’s match:

source: Getty Images

To call Chivas USA  a team in transition is to vastly undersell what is going on. New manager Jose (“Chelis”) Luis Sanchez Sola, under a new-old Chivas mothership plan of developing Latino talent, has completely remade the roster.

Chivas collected its first win of the “Chelis” era last week over FC Dallas, but outstanding goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and his teammates have more work to do in this one. The two-time reigning MLS champion Galaxy has been nothing less than outstanding in three outings, two in CONCACAF Champions League and a dominant 4-0 win over Chicago at the Home Depot Center.

And this is without Landon Donovan (who is expected back from Galaxy-approved sabbatical later this month) or without the replacement for high-profile DP David Beckham. Of course, perhaps that’s not so surprising with Omar Gonzalez (pictured), the league’s top center back, on patrol in the back for L.A.

The full match preview from MLSSoccer.com is here.

MLS on NBC makes its 2013 debut Saturday when Arlo White and Kyle Martino call New York Red Bulls against D.C. United at 12:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network carries two contests after that (Sporting KC vs. Chicago Fire, then Seattle vs. Portland). In between, “The Breakaway” will show goals from foursome of matches NBC is not carrying.

ProSoccerTalk’s series of Rivalry Week back stories:

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.

Premier League vet Scott Parker calls quits on playing career

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Scott Parker has announced his retirement from soccer after a stellar 20-plus year career in England.

[ MORE: Chile bests Portugal on PKs to reach Confed Cup final ]

The 36-year-old spent almost the entirety of his career in the Premier League, and played with seven teams during his time on the pitch.

“I believe now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in my life and career,” Parker said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly honoured and proud to have enjoyed the career that I have and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

Parker began playing with Charlton after coming up through the team’s youth academy, before completing a move to Chelsea in 2004.

Throughout his career, Parker also spent time at Newcastle, West Ham and Tottenham, before finishing up at Fulham this past season.

Three storylines when Mexico meets Germany in Confed Cup semis

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With a place in the final on the line tomorrow afternoon, it’s all or nothing for Mexico and Germany as they meet in the second semifinal at this summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup.

The two nations have had very similar paths in reaching the final four, after both accumulated seven points during the group stage and showed signs of improvement with every match.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s FIFA Confederations Cup action ]

Here are some of the key battles to watch on Thursday when Mexico and Germany square off for a place in the final.

How does Germany’s youth hold up vs. Mexico’s experience?

Even when Jurgen Low released his roster heading into the Confederations Cup, much was expected of the Germans. After a strong run of play during the group stage, Low’s men have lived up to the billing with an exciting young attack and an improving backline to match.

When Germany meets Mexico though, the defending World Cup champions will be taking on an El Tri side that has loads of international experience, and similar to that of Chile, the Europeans will surely receive all that they can handle.

At the tender age of 23, Julian Draxler captains the Germans and has been challenged with leading his nation throughout the tournament. The PSG attacker has been quality thus far, but he and his side will take on a whole different task on Thursday against a quick, feisty Mexican group.

Will Hirving Lozano be the difference in the attack?

Injuries and a key suspension will certain hinder Mexico in the semifinal round, but the bigger question is: how will Juan Carlos Osorio’s side cope with the losses?

El Tri know it will be without winger Andres Guardado due to yellow card accumulation, while striker Javier Hernandez is in question ahead of the Germany clash after reportedly training by himself on Monday.

Although Hernandez likely just needed rest after a busy season of matches in the Bundesliga, Mexico is still seeking a quality playmaker to replace Guardado on Thursday, one that they’re hoping with be Hirving Lozano.

The newly-signed PSV man has quickly become one of the top young faces in global soccer, and with three international goals for El Tri dating back to 2016, Lozano is the spark that Mexico needs.

El Tri must start fast

In all three of Mexico’s group stage matches Osorio’s side fell behind during the first half. While El Tri managed to come away unscathed to remain perfect in group play, it’s difficult to imagine that they will be able to pull off the same feat against a quality German side.

On the other hand, Mexico’s resilience has been impressive. In their opener against Portugal, El Tri pulled off a late winner against the reigning European champions, a result that likely set the tone for the team’s ensuing comebacks versus New Zealand and Russia, respectively.

Chile bests Portugal on penalty kicks to reach Confed Cup final

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Chile is on its way to the Confederations Cup final after a thrilling battle with Portugal on Wednesday afternoon.

The Chileans edged their European opposition, 0-0 (3-0 on penalty kicks), at Kazan Arena in Russia after goalkeeper Claudio Bravo made a trio of saves during the penalty shootout.

Arturo Vidal hit the post in the 119th minute from close range, before Martin Rodriguez’s rebound smashed off the crossbar and stayed out of goal to the dismay of the Chileans.

Chile had a legitimate claim for a penalty kick in the second half of extra time as Jose Fonte stepped on the foot of Francisco Silva inside the Portuguese area, but the referee opted to play on.

The South Americans thought they had picked out the lead just a few minutes into extra time when Alexis Sanchez’s header glanced just wide of goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo had several quality chances to break the deadlock during regulation, but none better than in the 72nd minute when the Real Madrid star had his deflected effort narrowly miss the top corner.

Chile began to find more of a rhythm during the second stanza, and Eduardo Vargas nearly gave his side the lead in the 59th minute when he acrobatically shot on goal, forcing a reaction save out of Rui Patricio.

Vargas had the first big chance for the South Americans in the sixth minute when he found himself in on goal against Patricio, but the Portuguese goalkeeper stood tall and made the save.

Meanwhile, Claudio Bravo found himself in a similar situation on the other end just a minute later, when the Manchester City keeper kept Portugal off the scoreboard.

Chile will meet the winner of Thursday’s contest between Mexico and Germany, while the Portuguese will await the loser of the match to decide third place.