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This should be a cracking encounter between two city rivals with lots of stars featuring in both squads. Los Angeles FC won the Supporters' Shield and are the favorites to win this year’s MLS Cup, whereas Los Angeles Galaxy’s five MLS Cup wins makes them the most successful side in MLS history. There’s a lot riding on this for both sides.
LA Galaxy have come out on top more often historically, winning seven, losing four and drawing five but they won’t be the favorites heading into this match. This should add another layer of tension to this rivalry.
The last match between the two sides was a thrilling contest with LAFC winning 3-2. Jose Cifuentes broke the deadlock for LAFC with a header in the 17th minute. It was an open game with both teams creating plenty of chances to score in the first-half but the score remained 1-0 to LAFC. Samuel Grandsir’s goal in the 55th minute woke the game up, and leveled the score.
Cifuentes got his second of the game in the 70th minute and Arnago got one two minutes later to give LAFC a lead for the second time in the game. It looked like that would do the job for LAFC but Ryan Raveloson got one back for LA Galaxy in the 81st minute to give the away side some hope for a comeback.
It wasn’t to be ultimately for LA Galaxy but this game showed just how thin the margins are between the top sides in the league. Both teams got 11 shots off with LA Galaxy getting six on target, which was one more than what LAFC managed. LA Galaxy also edged the possession stats with 52% of it. The Western Conference semifinal also promises to be a fairly tight affair.
Despite suffering a loss to Nashville SC in their last regular season game, LAFC won the 2022 MLS Supporters Shield. Hany Mukhtar got the only goal of the game for Nashville SC, which helped him win the Golden Boot award, but it didn’t take the shine away from LAFC’s excellent season.
With 67 points, they were 12 points better off than Austin FC, who came second in the Western Conference table. The job’s not done for LAFC, who have been touted as the favorites for large parts of this season.
LAFC had a pretty strong squad before their summer additions with Carlos Vela leading them, but the additions of Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini have just added to the expectations. The two players made good starts to their LAFC careers but their influence waned a bit towards the end of the regular season.
Not that it ultimately mattered because the team still won the Supporters' Shield, but they’ll now have to go one further by winning the MLS Cup. The two signings were real statements from the club. Bale and Chiellini will have to show all their experience in the coming days. Bale has also got to get ready for the World Cup and it’ll be important for him to get into these games with some sharpness because there will be no qualifiers before all the national teams fly to Qatar.
The two have also been great leaders during their career and it’ll be important for them to show their teammates that side of the game as well.
Cristian Arango will be well aware that most of the talk around LAFC will be around the likes of Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini now -- and it was Carlos Vela before that. But if Los Angeles FC are going to win the MLS cup this time, Arango will also have to be at his best.
He has been LAFC’s top attacking player this season with 16 goals. Arnago isn’t an ordinary forward – he’s also capable of carrying the ball long distances, passing and dribbling. He’s got a great relationship with Vela – and if he can manage the same with Gareth Bale, there’s no reason why LAFC shouldn’t win the MLS Cup this season.
All it took was a goal from Julian Araujo in the 60th minute to take LA Galaxy into the Western Conference semifinals. A lot of credit also needs to go to goalkeeper, Jonathan Bond, who ended the game with 5 saves. They’ll certainly need him to be at his best when they face a fiery LAFC attack.
Arango was an unlikely hero, having scored one goal in four seasons. It doesn’t matter where the goals come from in such ties and LA Galaxy will be bolstered by the win and manner of it. The team has a history of winning titles and wins like this will prove to be a great psychological boost.
The MLS has had a lot of great players come in from Europe over the years in their waning years but few who are in their prime. Puig, who formerly played for Barca, is a rare case. Still only 24 years old, he’s given the LA Galaxy a sense of control.
The team was pretty good prior to his arrival but were not able to match results with performances. Something was broken in the side but they’re now able to sustain their attacks better and missed chances don’t feel as costly because they know more will come. Puig’s addition has really helped the side become a lot calmer. They’re a weird match for any side because they aren’t the most dominant side anymore but also have some real threats in the likes of Puig. This might be LAFC’s biggest challenge if they are to go all the way.
Javier Hernandez has missed a few penalties in recent weeks and didn’t make the best of starts to the season but his goals made sure that LA Galaxy qualified for the playoffs. He’s been a vocal figure since joining the side, which wasn’t always the case during his time in Europe’s top clubs.
No longer as energetic as he once used to be, he’s become a more rounded footballer during his time in the MLS, while retaining his poaching instincts. Hernandez will be well aware that he has a reputation for missing some easy chances and will have to make sure that this won’t be the case against LAFC, who aren’t going to concede too many easy chances.
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|Teams||Los Angeles FC vs Los Angeles Galaxy|
|Location||Banc of California Stadium|
|Time||Thursday, 20 October at 5 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||FS1, FOX Deportes, TSN and TVA Sports|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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