Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy grabs the ball before Galaxy forward… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
The team with the heftier payroll got the victory.
The team with the star names got the goal.
But to say that the Galaxy's 1-0 win over Chivas USA at a sold-out Home Depot Center on Saturday night proved that it is clearly the superior soccer team in Los Angeles would be a bit of an exaggeration.
Yes, Chad Barrett's headed goal off a David Beckham free kick was the difference, and the Galaxy did maintain possession a little better and carve out a few more scoring opportunities, but Chivas was neither outplayed nor outclassed.
The single-goal difference, in fact, summed the game up quite well.
"If it's a one-goal difference that's in our favor, I'm going to take it every time," Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said.
It was a more-or-less absorbing 90 minutes of give and take.
For periods in the second half, Chivas had the Galaxy scrambling to hold on to the victory. Salvaging a tie was not out of the question, but Chivas Coach Robin Fraser came away unhappy at his team's performance.
He said his team had not played up to its capability.
"I just don't think we were sharp enough with the ball," he said. "Our lack of ability to possess the ball was our undoing."
Chivas (3-4-3) had an opportunity to take the lead in the opening minute, but Justin Braun's header off a Heath Pearce corner kick was off-target.
The Galaxy's first real opportunity came in the 15th minute after Jorge Flores had fouled midfielder Juninho. Beckham took the free kick, but, like Braun's effort, Omar Gonzalez steered his header wide right.
Twenty-two minutes in, Chivas again carved out an opening and Alejandro Moreno suddenly found himself in the box with the ball at his feet and only goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to beat.
His shot, from five or six yards, was brilliantly saved, however, by Ricketts, who threw himself low to his left to block the shot with his outstretched left hand.
Four minutes later, the Galaxy (6-2-5) took the lead.
This time Barrett got on the end of another Beckham free kick, this one from the left side, and sent a glancing header into the far corner of the Chivas net, well beyond goalkeeper Dan Kennedy's reach.
Chivas immediately tried to respond, but Simon Elliott's free kick did not find a teammate's head and Ricketts was quickly off his line to punch the ball clear and out of danger.
Fraser was the first of the coaches to go to his bench, sending Francisco Mendoza on near the hour mark in place of Flores. The move was intended to give new energy, but it was the Galaxy that almost scored.
Landon Donovan's pass to Juninho set the Brazilian off on a run down the middle that ended when he fired a shot that flew just wide of the left post.
Five minutes later, Arena made his own change, taking out Mike Magee and sending Chris Birchall on to stiffen the Galaxy's midfield defense.
Again, there was immediately a chance at the opposite end. Moments after Birchall came into the game, Chivas midfielder Ben Zemanski blasted a shot that beat Ricketts in the Galaxy goal but bounced off the left post.
Arena, meanwhile, finally confirmed that Beckham will miss Wednesday night's game against the Houston Dynamo in Carson so that he can take part in a testimonial match Tuesday night in England for his friend and former Manchester United teammate Gary Neville.
Arena said the midfielder has a few knocks and would have would have sat out the Houston game anyway.
"It's my responsibility, so if you want to throw darts, the darts should be thrown at me," he said.