Chivas USA appears three times on the Sounders FC schedule, and each meeting probably is more meaningful to midfielder Peter Vagenas than to any other Sounder.
Vagenas spent his previous nine seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy, so he was there from the start in 2005 when Chivas was ushered into the league – and even into the Galaxy’s home stadium – as a ready-made rival.
Vagenas enjoyed four seasons of the so-called SuperClasico between the two L.A.-area clubs. And he looked forward to facing the Red and White again as a Sounder.
However, a lingering knee injury kept him out of Seattle’s first visit to Chivas on April 18. And then bad luck stepped in just minutes for the June 6 rematch.
“I was set to start, and I actually got injured in the warm-ups,” Vagenas said. “So that was extremely disappointing. It was at Home Depot (Center), which is obviously special to me.”
Now, the Sounders are preparing for their third and final regular-season meeting with Chivas, at noon Saturday at Qwest Field.
However, Vagenas stressed after Thursday training that with just five games remaining, the stakes have increased beyond any personal rivalry.
“It’s obviously a different week,” he said. “When I’m used to playing Chivas, it’s … a highlight on the schedule because you’re sharing the building with them. So for me, personally, there’s going to be some of that. But at this point, it’s important because they’re sitting pretty in the league right now, they’ve got games in hand and they can leapfrog everybody – if I’m not mistaken – if they take care of business.”
Chivas can’t hop over everyone on Saturday, but it can come close. At 11-9-3, Chivas is six points behind Columbus with one game in hand, and four points behind Houston with three games in hand. The L.A. team could climb as high as third in MLS by beating the 9-6-10 Sounders.
However, Vagenas points out that it’s the Sounders’ business to make sure the points swing in the other direction.
“We find ourselves in a great spot as well,” he said. “It’s one of those control-your-own-destinies types of things. We have a great opportunity.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808