SUPERCLASICO: Angel vs. his old 'mates
CARSON -- His biggest fans Sunday are hoping Juan Pablo Angel cools off, that the goals he's been pouring in for Chivas USA dry up, that he comes out and has a real stinker.
That's because his biggest fans Sunday will be the guys in the other shirts.
Angel takes on his former Galaxy teammates for the first time since he moved down the hall in August's transfer-window-deadline trade, and they took the opportunity to express how much they're enjoying his terrific run of form.
The 35-year-old Colombian striker, who struggled to find chemistry with teammates and scored scored just three goals in 22 games with L.A., has six goals in his last four games with Chivas USA -- and seven in seven games since arriving.
“I talk to Juan almost every day,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, who in 2007, when he was New York's coach, brought Angel to MLS, then signed him for the Galaxy during the offseason and dealt him so L.A. could acquire Irish forward Robbie Keane. “I'm real happy for him, because when that whole thing went down, I said two teams are going to benefit -- both teams are going to benefit. And Chivas certainly has, and I know we have, and I'm elated with the fact that Juan keeps his head up high [and] can walk away from this season knowing he once again demonstrated the quality striker he is and the kind of quality person he is.
“There's no one happier for Juan than I am. Now come Sunday, I hope he's the worst player on the field, but that's just the competitive nature of things.”
Galaxy captain Landon Donovan thinks Angel has benefited from Chivas' tactics.
“He's been fantastic. I don't think it's been a surprise,” said Donovan, who is uncertain for the SuperClasico with a quad injury. “Sometimes, not just in soccer but in sports, you see it everywhere where a guy doesn't fit in with somewhere and then flourishes elsewhere.
“My personal opinion is it's probably a stylistic thing. Chivas is a team that plays with some proper wide players and does a better job of putting balls in front of the goal and crossing the ball. Juan's dangerous in those areas. We tend to play more with midfielders that are more inside, and we combine differently that way.
“I think to man, every guy in [the Galaxy locker room] is really happy for him. He was a great teammate, and we're really happy for him. We just don't want him to score Sunday.”
Angel acknowledges, sort of, that the game is special.
“It's a unique situation,” he told the league's website. “It's the team that I started off the year playing for, and now I will play against them. It only happens here [in MLS], but for me, I just need to handle the game, and I'd like to play well. It's as simple as that.”
WORTH NOTING: L.A., at 11-0-5, is looking to complete an unbeaten home slate. The Galaxy is 32-10-13 in MLS home games since Arena took charge in August 2008, and they're 35-10-14 in MLS games at HDC in that time. Arena's record with L.A. against the Goats is 6-0-2. ... The Galaxy leads the all-time series, 15-3-6, and won this season's first meeting, a 1-0 decision May 21 won on Chad Barrett's first-half goal. ... Heath Pearce, who has missed two games after returning from a two-game absence because of a torn thigh muscle, is available to play on Chivas' backline, but Michael Umaņa is out after suffering a knee injury while playing last week with Costa Rica's national team. ... Galaxy center back Gregg Berhalter, 38, announced Thursday that he is retiring at season's end. ... Chivas closes its season next Saturday at home against Seattle. The Galaxy's final regular season game is next Sunday at Houston. ...
Houston's Brad Davis has caught David Beckham in the MLS assists race, notching his 15th in the Dynamo's victory Friday at Portland. ... Donovan, with a dozen goals, has fallen to fifth in the Golden Boot standings. D.C. United's Dwayne De Rosario and San Jose's Chris Wondolowski both scored their 15th on Saturday. New York's Thierry Henry, whose regular season is over after he was red-carded, has 14, and Columbus' Andres Mendoza netted a pair to get to 13. Donovan has scored just once in league play since the end of July.
MISSING: Galaxy defender Frankie Hejduk is suspended for yellow cards. ... Keane (abductor strain, torn thigh muscle) and defender Bryan Jordan (ruptured tendon in his middle finger) are out, joining defender/midfielder Sean Franklin (inflamed knee) and long-term injured reserve residents Leonardo (torn ACL/LCL) and Sean Alvarado (torn ACL). ... Donovan, Beckham (back spasms), Berhalter (sprained foot), midfielder Mike Magee (hamstring strain) and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts (quad tightness) are listed as questionable.
Chivas is without Umaņa and midfielder Paulo Nagamura (broken foot). Pearce (torn hamstring) is listed as doubtful and forward Justin Braun (calf strain) as probable.
At Home Depot Center (Carson), 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN and ESPN Deportes
Radio: K-Talk (KTLK-AM/1150, English), ESPN Deportes (KWKU-AM/1220 and KWKW-AM/1330, both Spanish) and W Radio (XEWW-AM/690, Spanish)
Referee: Jair Marrufo