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.
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“I was set to start, and I actually got injured in the warm-ups,” Vagenas said. “So that was extremely disappointing.”
Now, the Sounders are preparing for their third and final regular-season meeting with Chivas, at noon Saturday at Qwest Field.
However, Vagenas stressed that with just five games remaining, the stakes have increased beyond any personal rivalry.
“When I’m used to playing Chivas, it’s … a highlight on the schedule because you’re sharing the building with them,” he said. “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.”
At 11-9-3, Chivas could climb to as high as third place in MLS by beating the 9-6-10 Sounders.
Vagenas said it’s up to the Sounders to prevent that from happening.
“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.”