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Chivas USA-Galaxy Preview

Apr 1, 2010 - 1:50 AM By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO STATS Writer

Chivas USA (0-1-0) at Los Angeles (1-0-0), 11:00 p.m. EDT

Last season, CD Chivas USA was considered a favorite to reach MLS Cup. Instead, the Los Angeles Galaxy eliminated their Home Depot Center co-tenants en route to a stunning run to the title game.

Another win over Chivas USA in the SuperClasico on Thursday night would give the Galaxy their best start to a season in eight years.

Los Angeles (1-0-0) beat Chivas USA 3-2 on aggregate in last fall's Western Conference semifinals before eventually falling 5-4 on penalty kicks to Salt Lake in MLS Cup. While the Galaxy ended their club-record three-year playoff drought, Chivas USA (0-1-0) stumbled to a fourth consecutive first-round exit.

This season, it's the Galaxy who are considered top title contenders. They opened 2010 in strong fashion Saturday, beating New England 1-0.

Los Angeles now has a chance to open a season with consecutive wins for the first time since 2002, when it went on to win its first league title.

Edson Buddle could be key to the Galaxy's hopes. The forward, who was limited to five goals in 19 games due to foot and calf injuries in 2009, scored in the sixth minute against the Revolution.

"I think this could be a good year for him," coach Bruce Arena said of Buddle, who had a career-high 15 goals for Los Angeles in 2008. "He's definitely over his injury problems."

Buddle scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Chivas on July 11. The Galaxy went 2-0-1 in last season's series to improve to 10-3-5 all-time versus their local rival.

Los Angeles is also unbeaten in six games in the series (3-0-3) since a Sept. 13, 2007 defeat.

Landon Donovan, who assisted on Buddle's score Saturday, has seven goals and six assists in 15 games against Chivas USA. The midfielder-forward scored in each of the two playoff meetings last season, including a penalty kick to clinch a 1-0 win in the second leg to take the series.

Chivas USA has undergone major changes since then, as Martin Vasquez was named coach after Preki left to join Toronto.

Chivas dropped its first game under Vasquez, 1-0 to Colorado last Friday.

"It might take us a few games to really get into a good rhythm," Vasquez told the league's official Web site. "But hopefully we can get into rhythm as soon as possible."

Osael Romero is one of the new Chivas additions trying to acclimate himself to MLS. The midfielder, who has eight goals in 39 games for El Salvador, managed only one shot and was issued a yellow card in his debut.

"I think he's coming along very well," midfielder Sacha Kljestan said. "He's learning English and he's wanting to put a lot in during training."

Reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Zach Thornton could be back in net as he attempts to return from a hip injury sustained last month with the United States national team. Thornton enjoyed a resurgence last season, going 12-9-6 while leading the league in goals-against average (0.87) and shutouts (12).

If he's unable to play, Dan Kennedy would get a second consecutive start after he made one save against the Rapids.