LA Galaxy v LAFC, Saturday July 20, 03:00
LA Galaxy host their newest and fiercest rivals at the Dignity Health Center on Saturday, but it is the high-flying visitors who go into this game as the odds-on favourites.
The original intra-Los Angeles rivalry was between LA Galaxy and Chivas USA, who shared a stadium, but when Chivas was dissolved in 2014, attention shifted to the California Clasico against San Jose Earthquakes. The arrival of LAFC last summer shifted the balance and ‘El Trafico’ has quickly become a fiercely contested affair. All three meetings so far have been close, with Galaxy winning the first 4-3, and the subsequent two ending in 2-2 and 1-1 draws.
Galaxy the Outsiders
The fact that LA Galaxy go into this home game as 16/5 outsiders is partly due to the fact that their opponents don’t have far to travel but is mainly down to their poor recent form. After a couple of seasons in the doldrums, they had a good start to the current campaign, but have run out of steam since May, losing seven of their last eleven, including a home 3-1 defeat by San Jose last week. They’ve dropped to third in the Western Conference and are in danger of being caught by a number of improving teams including Minnesota and San Jose.
In a Conference full of inconsistent teams, LAFC have been the exception. Under former Swansea coach Bob Bradley, their high-pressing, possession-based game has proven effective throughout the campaign so far. They’ve lost just two out of twenty MLS games, and have a ten-point lead over the next closest team in MLS, Philadelphia. They’ve also shown plenty of resilience, bouncing back from a surprise defeat in the US Open Cup to beat Houston 3-1 last weekend, a result that followed 5-1 and 6-1 thrashings of Kansas and Vancouver respectively.
It may be a new rivalry, but these two teams have generated plenty of heat in their confrontations so far, and we can expect another frenetic encounter this weekend. At 10/3 the draw may be tempting for MLS punters given the closeness of previous games between these two, but given their team’s current form, many LAFC fans will be feeling confident enough to take the 8/11 on an away win.