If the Los Angeles Galaxy are to continue their success versus Chivas USA on Sunday, they must do it without Bruce Arena on the sideline.
The veteran coach will serve a one-game suspension as the Galaxy look to end a four-match winless streak in league play and take the season series from their in-house rival for the sixth straight year.
Arena was suspended by MLS on Friday for entering the field of play to argue with an official after an offside call wiped out Robbie Keane's apparent tying goal during stoppage time of last Sunday's 1-0 loss at Portland. Assistant coach Dave Sarachan will fill in for Arena as the two-time defending champion Galaxy (13-11-6) look to snap an 0-2-2 league stretch that's produced three goals.
"We ideally would like to have our leader on the sideline," star midfielder Landon Donovan told the league's official website. "In a perfect world, he's there, but people have reasons for making those decisions. It's the way it goes, so we've got to deal with it."
Currently in playoff position in the Western Conference, Los Angeles plays three straight home matches before concluding the regular season at Seattle on Oct. 27.
"Still another 12 points to get," said Keane, scoreless in two league matches after totaling six goals and two assists in his previous four. "We're certainly quite capable of doing that, but we need to start kicking on now because there's not much time left."
Based on their history against Chivas (6-17-8), the Galaxy would appear to be in good shape to begin that stretch run on a positive note.
After a 1-1 draw March 17 and a 1-0 victory June 23, Los Angeles owns a 9-2 scoring advantage during its current 3-0-1 streak versus Chivas since a 1-0 loss May 19, 2012. That is the Galaxy's only defeat in the last 17 meetings with their StubHub Center co-tenants, 11 of which resulted in Los Angeles victories.
Chivas, which has totaled six goals in the last 14 SuperClasico matchups, must win to avoid losing this season series for the first time since going 2-1-1 in 2007. Los Angeles is the home team for this matchup and is 6-0-3 in that role against Chivas since Aug. 23, 2007.
Despite being 18-4-7 all-time against Chivas, the Galaxy understand they can't take anything for granted against a team already eliminated from postseason contention.
"For sure, they have nothing to play for and I'm sure the guys over there are going to want to make our lives terrible," midfielder Marcelo Sarvas told the Galaxy's official website.
After Chivas allowed a goal in the 87th minute of last Sunday's 1-0 loss to San Jose, coach Jose Luis Real wants his players to simply focus on trying to avoid a third consecutive defeat. However, some know there's also plenty of extra incentive to play well Sunday.
"At this point, we're just trying to build a little cohesiveness heading into next year and put together some positive results," defender Bobby Burling said. "But at the same time, we want to play spoiler."
Erick Torres has a team-leading seven goals but none during the current 0-2-1 stretch as Chivas has been outscored 7-2.
Donovan had recorded five goals and four assists in six league matches prior to last Sunday's defeat. He has two goals and five assists in his last three versus Chivas.