If the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) wants to win the MLS Cup it is their biggest rival the LA Galaxy who stands in their way as the Black and Gold begin their MLS Cup playoffs campaign today.
Some may say it’s deja vu of sorts. In 2019 when LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield, their first opponent in the playoffs was the LA Galaxy. This year once again LAFC captured the Supporters’ Shield and once again their campaign starts with the Galaxy.
Only three LAFC players remain from their 2019 roster which saw them get a 5-3 win over their crosstown rival. That was the night LAFC finally notched a win against the Galaxy after failing to gain 3 points in any of their previous regular season matchups.
This season LAFC is hoping for more of the same. In the overall series, the Galaxy lead 7-4-5 and defeated LAFC twice this year, including knocking them out of the U.S. Open Cup tournament.
LAFC did defeat the Galaxy in their last matchup 3-2 at Banc of California Stadium but that was back on July 8th. Since, both teams have added different pieces to their rosters and will field different teams come Thursday night.
There will still be some prevailing storylines to watch for the match:
Chicharito vs. Vela
When it comes to this rivalry, the two most visible faces are Carlos Vela and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Both being captains of their perspective teams and due to the large Mexican-American population of Los Angeles, both Mexican nationals have a huge following.
Both players factored 20+ goals this season with Chicharito outscoring Vela 18 to 12, however, Vela also contributed in 9 assists compared to Chicharito’s two. This season only Chicharito scored a goal in the rivalry game, but Vela had two assists in the LAFC win in July.
LAFC has deeper depth in their squad where if Vela’s productivity levels were silenced LAFC could still win, where as the Galaxy do not have the luxury of having Chicharito shut down even with Riqui Puig on the pitch.
An upper hand and perhaps the biggest is that with the win over the Supporters’ Shield, LAFC earned home-field advantage throughout the entire playoffs run. The Black and Gold has only lost twice in their home turf going 13-2-2, a record you want when having home-field advantage.
In their rivalry with the Galaxy, LAFC has lost just once at home and dating back to the COVID-19 Shut down period where teams were playing in empty stadiums. If LAFC holds the ball, they should win.
The LA Galaxy has momentum going into the game pulling themselves from out of the playoffs to gain a fourth place in the Western Conference. They are 4-0-1, but it’s a tall task to ask a team to pull out a win in an atmosphere such as a sellout crowd inside Banc of California Stadium.
LAFC has great depth, are healthy and well rested. LAFC will be ready and will win 2-0.