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SuperClásico arrives as LA Galaxy, Chivas USA square up


This evening the StubHub Center will be packed out for the second SuperClásico of the season between the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA.

What a difference a few months makes.

Back in March when the rivals last clashed, José Luis Sánchez Solá was in charge and the dawn of a new era was taking place at Chivas USA. A 1-1 tie played out on the pitch and Chivas felt aggrieved that they didn’t snatch all three points despite Carlos Alvarez equalizing late on.

Fast forward to now and things are vastly different.  Now the Goats are bottom of the Western conference after a bright start and “El Chelís” is no more. The Mexican manger was given his marching orders and confusion once again reigns as Chivas USA’s future is hanging in the balance.

Interim manager Jose Luis Real will be managing in his first SuperClásico and results haven’t gone kindly since he took over at the beleaguered MLS franchise.

But despite everything that has gone on, Goats fans are looking forward to the rivalry match with the Galaxy. In recent weeks LA have faltered again, and now find themselves nine points off the top of the West after the weekends earlier games.

Jorge Villafaña has been with Chivas for seven seasons and he is confident the Goats are moving forward towards making the playoffs, which he recalls fondly.

“I remember it well and it is something very exciting and that’s what we are working on to reach that level. And now with [Real], the team is taking shape and developing and the difference is noticeable. It takes time, but I think it can be done. He’s a very good coach and what better than to get a result against the Galaxy to give us a huge boost in confidence. In these matches you forget about the past because they are unique and we come into the match confident.”

While Landon Donovan believes a desperate Chivas side have improved since the start of the season.

“We expect their very best. We watched the Vancouver game [a 3-1 Chivas defeat] and they’re a much better team than they were earlier in the year. This is a big game for them and they know that, and this is a big game for us. I expect that they’ll be a lot different than they have been in the last few months.”

In eight seasons of the rivalry, LA have won seven SuperClasico titles, while Chivas have triumphed just once in 2007. The series is level before game two and with just one more meeting between the sides on October 6, Chivas know a win will edge them closer to picking up the SuperClásico trophy for just the second-time in franchise history.

That would be something worth celebrating after the kind of season Chivas USA and their fans have endured. You can watch the game on UniMas at 11pm ET. Below there are SuperClásico stats and a video of the rivalries top five goals.

Wins all-time:

LA Galaxy: 16
Drawn: 6
Chivas USA: 4

Largest victories:

Galaxy 5-2 Chivas (August 2005)
Galaxy 3-0 Chivas (September 2006)
Chivas 3-0 Galaxy (August 2007)
Chivas 3-0 Galaxy (September 2007)
Galaxy 5-2 Chivas (April 2008)

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

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Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.

Phil Neville praises Juan Mata’s play to Manchester United

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Juan Mata has appeared in 116 matches for Manchester United since moving to Old Trafford in 2014. In that time, Mata has scored 29 goals and recorded 18 assists.

Despite his performance for the team, some thought Mata would be moved when Jose Mourinho came to town, including former United player and assistant coach Phil Neville.

Neville told Sky Sports, “I actually thought he would be the first out of the door when Jose came, but he’s actually becoming one of the most important players.”

Neville praised Mata’s contributions and versatility for United. “He is never injured, he provides a lot of assists, he plays in two or three different positions, and he scores important goals.”

Manchester United has lacked an identity under Mourinho and recently faltered in the Premier League as the team is winless in its last three matches.

[ MORE: Mourinho gets FA charge ]

Could Mata be the answer to some of United’s problems?

The Spaniard is a classic No. 10 with the ability to dictate his team’s attack and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. Mata can also put the ball in the back of the net as evidenced by his winner against Manchester City in the EFL Cup.

Mourinho has options in the center midfield with the likes of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick in addition to Mata on the roster.

However, given the team’s Premier League struggles, it could be worth giving Mata a chance as the team’s No. 10.

David Moyes faces FA charges after being sent off during EFL Cup

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David Moyes and Sunderland have gotten off to one of the worst starts in Premier League history.

If they fail to earn a point against Arsenal this weekend, they will tie the 1995-96 Manchester City team for the worst start ever through 10 matches with two points.

It appears those frustrations carried over to the EFL Cup for Moyes. On Wednesday, the manager was forced to leave the dugout toward the end of Sunderland’s 1-0 loss to Southampton after he protested a no-call from referee Chris Kavanagh.

Moyes was charged by the FA for his protests, saying the manager “used abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official”.

It’s just another thing to add to Moyes’ plate as he looks to keep Sunderland’s hopes of safety alive in the Premier League.