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El Trafico, one of MLS’s newest and most popular rivalries, has arrived.
Despite the fact that it has a very short history that extends back to the debut of LAFC in 2018, the LA-based rivalry has quickly become a must-watch series for millions of soccer fans across the country. Tightly contested and frequently high-scoring, this weekend’s edition should once again prove to be the same when the LA Galaxy host LAFC.
|LA Galaxy vs LAFC Information|
|Teams||LA Galaxy vs LAFC|
|Location||Dignity Health Sports Park (Los Angeles, California)|
|Time||Saturday, May 8th at 8:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||Fox, Fox Deportes|
On paper, LAFC were supposed to be the most dominant MLS team of the 2021 season.
With former league MVP Carlos Vela back in the mix, and also some new faces boosting the squad, the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners were immediately expected to take the league by the storm through an attack-minded approach from manager Bob Bradley.
That is, until Vela suffered an injury during Week 1.
Initially seen as a premature move by Bradley after pulling out his star player in the 22nd minute of the 2021 season-opener against Austin FC, Vela ultimately ultimately missed out on the following two matches due to muscle-related issues.
LAFC haven’t been worrisome without Vela — they have two draws and a win to kick-off the year — but that said, it’s obvious that they aren’t nearly as dangerous without the Mexican winger sprinting towards the net.
And even if Vela returns to the field this Saturday, LAFC will be taking on their crosstown rivals that should be motivated to correct themselves after experimenting in their recent first loss of the year.
Don’t fix a lineup if it isn’t broken. After seeming to have found the right adjustment of players that could help striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez up top, Galaxy manager Greg Vanney then decided to mix things up with an altered XI last week.
It didn’t work.
What followed was a one-sided 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders. After previously claiming two previous victories, the Galaxy appeared frustrated as they had numerous difficulties with stifling Seattle players like Raul Ruidiaz, Brad Smith and Cristian Roldan. In the attack for the Galaxy, Hernandez was starved of chances and ended up needing to drop back to help create opportunities.
That experiment should soon be over, and with the hindsight of the previous loss, things should return back to normal for Vanney’s setup if he could bring back some of the names seen in the first two games into his XI.
All that said in the last section, it would be foolish for us to ignore all of the goals that the Galaxy have allowed as well.
Regardless of their attacking efforts from their two victories, they also looked poor defensively with the four goals they allowed in those results. With a total of seven goals allowed in their three games so far this season, few MLS teams, if any, have allowed as many opportunities in their own half than the Galaxy.
With that in mind, no matter how many goals Chicharito scores, there’s no doubt that LAFC will have plenty of chances to keep this level.
But will LAFC be able to fully capitalize on enough chances to secure a win?
At the time of writing, there are no guarantees that Vela will be ready for the rivalry game, and even if Bradley does place him in the gameday roster, it’s tough to assume that the player who has only taken part in fewer than 30 minutes so far this season will be at 100% if he returns to the field on Saturday.
Alongside him, question marks also remain for his teammates that have shuffled through two consecutive 1-1 draw in the last two weeks.
The Galaxy will be sure to give them chances in the final third, but after seeing some of the latest developments, there’s reason to believe that LAFC will come up just short of a win.
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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