The Los Angeles Galaxy is one of the hottest teams in MLS at the moment going into this Saturday’s El Tráfico. Unbeaten since league play resumed after the Leagues Cup, LA has managed the feat while dealing with injuries and absences to key personnel. Unfortunately, form counts for little in this fixture. So do LA bragging rights from the last El Tráfico. In that fixture, Riqui Puig ran riot in a 2-1 Galaxy win on the 4th of July at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
But, each new El Tráfico stands alone as a singular event.
That’s why both teams go into this weekend’s battle of Los Angeles with something to prove. LAFC will try to course correct after a run of losses that has called into question their championship defense and credentials. The Galaxy, meanwhile, is desperately seeking the three points that will get it closer to the playoff line and maintain the unbeaten streak.
El Tráfico never disappoints, and the stakes mean that this one shouldn’t either.
LA Galaxy vs. LAFC at BMO Stadium
LA Galaxy’s Current Run of Form
Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney has a problem. The G’s are playing good soccer, but the results tell a different story. Although his team is unbeaten in four games and has lost only once in the last 12, LA still finds itself in 13th place and in real danger of missing the playoffs. But, they are the only MLS team with only one loss since May 31.
With eight games left, Puig and the Galaxy’s other offensive weapons like Douglas Costa and Tyler Boyd must step up for this one. Center Back Maya Yoshida will also hope the backline can deliver another clean sheet after securing two in the last four games.
Vanney’s other problem concerns selection. His biggest headache might be whether to start the misfiring Dejan Joveljic or new striker Billy Sharp. Joveljic has four goals against LAFC, while Sharp has looked hungry and focused in his limited minutes. The Galaxy’s low goal tally this year will make this decision pivotal to victory.
But the Galaxy will win this game if they can control the midfield. Unfortunately, one of Uri Rosell, Mark Delgado, or Edwin Cerrillo will miss out on the starting lineup. Whoever gets the nod in the middle, they’ll be tasked with slowing down one of the league’s best transition and counter-attacking sides. If they can, the skies over LA will be blue, white, and Gold.
LAFC Current Run of Form
It’s been a tale of two seasons for LAFC.
The reigning champs started the season strongly in defense of their crown, but in truth, have looked like a shell of themselves since the Galaxy eliminated them from the U.S. Open Cup. Since then, they’ve lost the CONCACAF Champions League final to Leon, been eliminated from the League’s Cup earlier than expected, and lost the most recent El Tráfico to the Galaxy in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Rose Bowl.
After the loss at the bowl, LAFC has only won twice in MLS play. In fact, they’ve only won six of their last 21 matches and two of those were in the Leagues Cup. This means the city neighbors have only four wins from their last 18 MLS games.
Their early form has helped them stay afloat and hold onto third place in the Western Conference. LAFC’s 11-7-9 record has earned them 40 points after 27 games played. Since returning from the Leagues Cup though, the black and gold has lost three of four with their lone win coming against the last-place Colorado Rapids. They’ve also lost three straight games for the third time this year. This bad run puts them only three points out of eighth place in the West after a 2-1 road loss to Charlotte and a 3-1 home defeat to Inter Miami. A 2-0 away loss to Portland in its last game has LAFC at one of its lowest points going into an El Tráfico.
If Carlos Vela and Denis Bouanga are sharp and in sync on Saturday, none of these stats will matter though. Both are lethal in the attack and can change a game in an instant. Giorgio Chiellini’s performance will be important as well, as the Italian defender will be tasked with keeping Puig quiet. A task that he failed on July 4.
The El Tráfico fixture series stands at 9-5-6 in favor of the Galaxy. The G’s have also won the last two matches 2-1, and 2-0, in the league and U.S. Open Cup respectively. If the Galaxy can win again, it would be the first three-game win streak in El Tráfico history for either club. It will also be the first time one of these clubs takes two in a row at their rival’s home ground.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) September 12, 2023
LA Galaxy vs. LAFC Prediction
Both teams need this one. That’s why the opening minutes should be wild and end to end. The LA clubs should settle into a cagey and physical affair after the initial zeal of a city classic wears off, however. They’ll dare each other to make a mistake and neither will be risking much. This is especially true if the scores are tied near the end of the match. This is why a mistake or an exceptional performance might swing the balance of the day. Look for LA’s clubs to come out swinging, looking to land a knockout blow early. If neither can, expect a tie in the year’s last regular-season El Tráfico.
The post LA Galaxy vs. LAFC Prediction for September 16; Galaxy To Take LA Bragging Rights? appeared first on Last Word On Soccer.