The Los Angeles Football Club takes an unfamiliar place that leads to the next episode of “El Trafico” on Saturday.
In addition to a few weeks at the beginning of the expansion season and a seven-day route last year, LAFC has been continuously ahead of five-time MLS Cup champion Galaxy in the Western Conference ranking since 2018.
In each of the last nine encounters in the regular season, LAFC was selectively above the galaxy. And when they met in the playoffs in 2019, LAFC was the higher seed. Not so this weekend.
Five goals from striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez propelled the Galaxy (2-1-0, 6 points) to victories over Inter Miami and the New York Red Bulls and, despite being banned in Seattle last week, one Point ahead of LAFC (1-0-2, 5 points) in the first of three meetings this season.
The success for the Galaxie – which leads the series 4: 3: 3 – does not depend on the results against LAFC, which is why the Galaxie has had four head coaches in the last three years – Sigi Schmid, Dominic Kinnear and Guillermo Barros Schelotto and now Greg Vanney.
Vanney, the former Toronto FC skipper who won MLS Coach of the Year and an MLS trophy in 2017, brought with him a few things that made these Toronto teams successful, said LAFC coach Bob Bradley, who is in The past three seasons have earned a win and a draw against Vanney.
“In the future they like to switch games and obviously the focus is on how to create opportunities with Chicharito,” he continued. “I see a team with real potential. Of course, they try everything to take advantage of the quality of Chicharito.
“You get the feeling that the whole group is excited, that he’s fitter and in a good mood because they know how important he can be this season.”
The 2019 MLS MVP has penalized the galaxy with eight goals and three assists in his career. After missing the last two games, his right quadriceps improved enough to be able to step onto the practice field this week.
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“It’s unfortunate when you have this guy and see him in the locker room every day and he can’t stand next to you,” said midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye. “I think two years ago when Carlos was out we might not really know how to play without him. Now we’ve developed people who are here and figured out how we, no matter who’s on the field, are our way of playing football. You can see from the first game when Carlos was injured and other guys had to come in and get promoted. They did. ”
LAFC played up to 22 minutes at the season opener without Vela and scored fewer goals than Chicharito alone. Bradley said his team wasn’t sharp enough for three weeks to take advantage of future situations, fail to find the right pass, or synchronize the timing when the odds were good.
Regardless of the strengths and weaknesses on both sides, the number of points or the current form, every “El Trafico” has so far been shaped by the passion that has been shown on the field and with the fans.
“What doesn’t change,” said Bradley, “is what it means to the fans and that the intensity will be very, very high.”
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