Javier “Chicharito” Hernández will look to get back on the scoring sheet for the LA Galaxy against their city rivals LAFC. Photo by LA Galaxy.
By Jesus Perez, Staff Reporter
Updated 7:10 p.m.: LA Galaxy defeats LAFC, bringing them into the number 2 spot of the MLS Western Conference, behind San Jose Quakes. Final Score: LA Galaxy- 2 | LAFC- 1.
Its name may have started as a sarcastic jab at the region’s traffic and the name for the rivalry between Spain’s Real Madrid and Barcelona, but when it comes to the game, El Trafico is very serious. The first match between LAFC and LA Galaxy was on March 31, 2018, and produced one of the best MLS regular season matches ever in a thrilling 4-3 LA Galaxy victory. Since then, the teams have played nine more times, and while there have been routes, shutouts and three ties in a series the Galaxy has won four times and LAFC three times, heading into today’s El Trafico match-up one thing hasn’t happened: The Galaxy losing at home.
The Galaxy have been the home team four times, winning three and drawing once. LAFC has hosted five times (one was a neutral site) winning two, drawing twice and, in August, 2020, losing to the Galaxy, 3-0.
The teams exchanged shutouts last year, and at 5 p.m. today, the eyes of Los Angeles and and much of the soccer world will be tuning in to watch 11th installment of this genuine, and heated, rivalry, as the LA Galaxy host LAFC at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.
“This will be my first one and I’m excited for it,” Galaxy forward Javier Chicharito Hernandez said on the Extratime podcast this week. “They (LAFC) have only been in the MLS for a short period of time compared to the Galaxy, but they’ve been very good the last few seasons.”
LAFC forward and former MLS MVP Carlos Vela is the current leading goalscorer in the intense rivalry with 10 goals over 10 games. The LA Galaxy can claim overall bragging rights as they have four wins while LAFC has three wins, and the teams tied the other three times.
El Trafico grew into a heated rivalry right from the beginning because both teams had star forwards leading their squads. Zlatan Ibrahimović joined LA Galaxy in 2018 and debuted for the team in the first ever El Trafico while Vela joined LAFC as the team’s first ever Designated Player. Both players were the leading goal scorers in their respective teams and consistently competed for the league’s Golden Boot award in both 2018 and 2019.
This new chapter will pit long-time friends and former teammates Vela and Chicharito against each other, if Vela suits up to play for the Black and Gold. Vela hasn’t played since exiting LAFC’s season-opening victory over Austin F.C with a right quadricep injury. LAFC head coach Bob Bradley hinted that Vela’s availability would likely be a game-time decision.
“Carlos is doing a little bit [in training], which is always important for all of us,” Bradley said, according to Ari Liljenwall of MLS.com. “Carlos’ situation will still be looked at and we’ll make a decision.”
Vela and Chicharito enjoyed time together during their early days at Liga MX giants Chivas before taking their talents to Europe where they carved out separate paths. If Vela does not receive clearance to play in the game, their next opportunity to play against each other will be in August when the Galaxy visit the Banc of California Stadium.
LAFC have not lost this season, emerging victorious over Austin F.C. in their season opener before drawing with the Seattle Sounders at home and Houston Dynamo on the road. The LA Galaxy opened their season with two 3-2 victories over Inter Miami and the New York Red Bulls before dropping their most recent game, a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Seattle.
Both LA teams are doing well in the Western Conference standings, with just one point separating 5th place LA Galaxy (6 points) from 6th place LAFC (5 points). Seattle leads the conference with 7 points through the first three games. The highly anticipated El Trafico match will be broadcasted nationally at 5 p.m. local time on FOX and FOX Deportes.