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The fixture between LA Galaxy and LAFC will be a tale of two teams who have registered contrasting runs in the ongoing MLS season. The hosts, LA Galaxy, find themselves in the second-last position with only their pride to play for, while Steve Cherundolo’s side will be eager to consolidate their second spot in the race to the playoffs.
LA Galaxy have been on a winless run in their last five fixtures, including their loss to Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open quarter-final. It has been challenging for the Greg Vanney-managed side to convert one point into three, but they will look to come back stronger as a unit to challenge the more formidable LAFC in the El Trafico. The team will take some positives from their last MLS fixture against San Jose Earthquakes, where they registered a 2-2 stalemate.
The MLS defending champions, meanwhile, dropped points in their last two fixtures. The club failed to find the goal in their last fixture as FC Dallas steamrolled them 0-2. Goals in the second half from Denis Bounaga and their talismanic Mexican forward Carlos Vela in their second-last fixture against Vancouver Whitecaps FC were not enough to stop them from facing a 2-3 loss.
However, in the much-anticipated El Trafico, which is set to break the attendance record, LAFC will head in as favorites as their fast and hard press to regain the ball and possession dominance style of play can turn out to be overwhelming for the hosts.
Overall, the teams have faced off 19 times, where LA Galaxy won eight matches, Los Angeles FC won six, and five fixtures ended in a draw.
In their last MLS meeting, LAFC reigned supreme with a 3-2 win over LA Galaxy. Vela netted from the spot on either side of the halves, while American right-back Ryan Hollingshead found a third in the 70th minute. For the hosts, Tyler Boyd and Marco Delgado found the back of the net in the second half. Earlier this year, LA Galaxy blanked LAFC 2-0 in the U.S Open Round of 16 clash. Boyd (49th minute) and Riqui Puig (52’) netted goals in the second half to give their side a clinical victory.
Meanwhile, in 2022, the clubs from Los Angeles faced off four times. LAFC reigned victorious in the last two matches played in October and July, while LA Galaxy won the fixtures in April and May.
Despite that, the Vanney-managed club will be wary of their poor home record in the last five fixtures. LA Galaxy registered a draw against Sporting KC and a loss to Charlotte in their last two fixtures at home. Such was the plight of the home club that their experienced forward, Javier Hernandez, was sent off in the match against Charlotte as they registered a 0-1 loss.
Meanwhile, LAFC’s away form has been concerning off-late. They lost their last away match to FC Dallas 0-2. In fact, LAFC has managed to win only two of their last five away fixtures, with three matches ending in defeat.
In rivalry matches like the El Trafico, the head-to-head records and past results hardly matter, as both clubs will be looking to put their best foot forward in order to grab the bragging rights. After registering the worst-possible start to the season, LA Galaxy will look to go toe-to-toe with their better-placed rivals and take a leaf out of their exhilarating performance in the U.S Open R16 earlier this year.
Vanney fielded his best XI at a half-empty BMO stadium for the fixture. The win for the home team was made possible by second-half goals from Boyd and Puig. It resulted in the first El Trafico loss for LAFC since October last year. It was a huge morale-boosting victory for LA Galaxy despite their opponents fielding a B-string side, which missed the services of their best players of the season, including Vela and Bounaga.
LA Galaxy has failed to find the winner in their last four MLS 2023 fixtures. As a result, the club dropped points in all their matches in June and in their first fixture of this month.
Daniel Aguirre scored an 85th-minute goal earlier in June to help LA Galaxy draw level 1-1 against St. Louis. The club registered a 2-2 draw against Sporting KC, a 0-0 stalemate against Sporting KC, and a 2-2 draw against San Jose Earthquakes earlier this week.
However, their top goal scorer in all competitions, Preston Judd, experienced forward Hernandez, and Puig, will be extremely crucial in the team line-up to help them break the pattern and find a win in the much-anticipated derby.
It is expected that Vanney will opt for a more defensive 5-3-2 combination or his more suited 4-3-3 of play in the derby. The trio of Diego Costa, Preston Judd, and Tyler Boyd will be the forwards favored to start in the fixture, while Puig, Gaston Brugman, and Marco Delgado will be a collective force in the midfield. Uruguayan center-back Martín Caceres, who netted a goal in the fixture against Sporting KC, will be a key figure in the backline and duly tested.
Bounga and Vela have hunted in the pack for LAFC in the ongoing MLS 2023 season and will be eager to cause all sorts of problems for LA Galaxy. The talismanic forwards have scored 17 goals this season, and their opponents will be wary of their goal-scoring prowess.
In fact, Bounga needs two more goals to equal Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar’s tally of 13 goals in the race for the golden boot winner. The Gabonese international has a better goal-scoring rate, as he has netted 11 times in 17 fixtures compared to Mukhtar’s 13 goals in 23 matches.
His compatriot Vela has been talismanic with his goal-scoring ability and assists. The former Arsenal forwards have scored six times in nine matches while assisting five times for his side.
And while the duo has hogged the limelight for their consistency, Cherundolo’s men will have plenty of expectations from their trump card and Polish attacking midfielder Mateusz Bogusz in the fixture. Bogusz has been among the top players for the LAFC in the ongoing season and made his presence felt by assisting four goals.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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