The message of the Galaxy to the city is loud and clear, even if the wordless billboards went up quietly this week on the streets around Los Angeles FC’s Banc of California Stadium. There are some signs that show Zlatan Ibrahimovic running into LAFC’s Latif Blessing, sending the smaller man flying. On the other hand, there are others that show the imperious LA Galaxy striker making a saucy gesture toward LAFC’s Carlos Vela. Every image captured a triumphant moment for Zlatan and the Galaxy during the first four editions of El Trafico, the increasingly outstanding rivalry series between Major League Soccer’s two Los Angeles clubs.
Rivalry has drawn rowdy crowds and attracted international attention for the intensity and quality of the first four games. The Galaxy is the only five-time champions in MLS history, while their crosstown foes are a model expansion franchise with a lavish new stadium near downtown LA. Multicultural Los Angeles has loved and embraced soccer for decades, but having two successful professional franchises has amplified that passion, turning each of these rivalry games into something special.
The Galaxy (13-11-2) are whopping 20 points behind LAFC (19-3-4), which is running away with MLS’ best record during a spectacular second season. But LAFC is 0-2-2 against its biggest rivals, making this final regular-season meeting even more urgent for the newcomers in black and gold. Thrilling finishes, spectacular goals and bad-tempered play have been in abundance ever since this rivalry began with Zlatan’s electrifying two-goal MLS debut during the Galaxy’s comeback victory in March 2018.
Ibrahimovic and Vela have scored zsix goals apiece in the four El Trafico games. Their last meeting was dominated by the superstars, with Ibrahimovic’s hat trick besting Vela’s brace in a 3-2 victory for the Galaxy on July 19. You want to show you are better than the other team of the city, and it’s a good chance to show how good we are this season. I hope we can finally get the three points. ”The rivalry is new, but the fan bases’ animus is older.
Galaxy supporters look down at LAFC for its brief history and an empty trophy case, but also because LAFC’s fan base includes many hard-core supporters who switched allegiances from Chivas USA. But LAFC fans love to point out the Galaxy technically aren’t from Los Angeles, and they have never been there. Since 2003 after spending their first nine years of existence at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, they’ve been based in Carson, a suburb due south of downtown LA.
From the moment LAFC’s 3252 supporters union starts rocking the North End a couple of hours before kickoff, the Banc of California Stadium will be intense. Ticket prices on the secondary market for Sunday’s game skyrocketed in recent days, with few single seats under $200 and the high-end tickets topping $1,500. Fans at home can watch a streaming comedic commentary program synced to the match by Funny or Die. Sunday’s game will be the first El Trafico for Cristian Pavon. It could also mark the LAFC debut of Brian Rodriguez, the promising Uruguayan designated player whose paperwork cleared just in time to make him available to Bradley this weekend.