99 in the house

DEREK VAN DIEST

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- With 27,000 Commonwealth Stadium looks barren with little in the way of atmosphere, ambiance or emotion.

At 27,000 the Home Depot Center in Carson, a suburb of Los Angeles, is bursting at the seams with enough atmosphere, ambiance and emotion to rival any mid-sized soccer club in Europe.

Last night they played the local derby, or the SuperClassico as it's known around these parts - a game between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. It was an event that attracted Wayne Gretzky who made the trip to the stadium after Galaxy star David Beckham expressed an interest in meeting him. On May 13th, the Galaxy will face the Vancouver Whitecaps in Edmonton.

At Home Depot, the Galaxy played host to Chivas, which simply meant they were the designated local team as both teams share the stadium and have their corporate offices down the hall from one another. That's something unheard of in traditional soccer markets.

"It makes for some interesting lunch periods," said Galaxy president and general manger Alexi Lalas. "They're down the hall from us and we have a healthy respect for them. They do their business in a different way, but ultimately we have 11 guys and they have 11 guys and it's a matter of going out there and playing. And there is nothing like the atmosphere of a classico."

The rivalry was born when Chivas joined the league in 2005 becoming the 14th MLS franchise.

As the visiting team, Chivas fans were situated in one corner of the stadium. The team has two official supporters groups in the Legion 1908 and Union Ultras.

Galaxy fans dominated the rest of the stadium although their official fan club, the LA Riot Squad, were the most boisterous, situated in another corner.

"We established this rivalry a few years ago and it's just gone nuts on and off the field," said Lalas. "It's important. You have to have these intercity rivalries."


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