They say the advantage is with the underdog, and LA Galaxy—tho historically one of the league's most successful clubs—were going into this edition of El Trafico as expected losers. Galaxy, after all, had just received a 6-2 thrashing from their crosstown rivals, LAFC, only a month ago during the MLS is Back Tournament. And with LAFC welcoming the return of their star captain (and reigning Golden Boot holder) Carlos Vela, even Galaxy fans braced themselves for another trouncing.
But the storied club got the better of the home team on Aug. 22 with a decisive 2-0 victory at LAFC's Banc of California Stadium, battling it out in record California heat. It's possible Corona and its cruel effect on a live audience hurt the home team, but Galaxy consistently outpaced LAFC, looking undoubtedly the physically stronger and more competent side.
Galaxy opened the scoring with a gliding header from SoCal native Ethan Zubak, who finished a pitch perfect cross from Julian Araujo. This was Zubak's first MLS goal and second career MLS start, as he replaced high-profile Galaxy signing Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, currently out with injury.
Araujo provided another assist in the 54th minute with a cross-field combination from Argentinian international Cristian Pavon, drilled into the penalty box and completed by Sebastian Lletget to make it 2 nil.
The win ends LAFC's 11-game regular-season unbeaten streak dating back to 2019. It also ends an 11-game goal-scoring streak from Carlos Vela, who went out in the 58th minute with an unknown injury.
"Just before that play he took a shot, the shot was blocked," LAFC coach Bob Bradley said after the game. "So, that is usually an MCL-type situation so that's what we will look at in the next day or two."
LAFC were also missing key midfielder Eduard Atuesta, out with a foot injury, while on the Galaxy side Jonathan dos Santos made a second-half appearance after coming back from a groin injury.
LAFC next face Real Salt Lake on Aug. 26, while LA Galaxy play Seattle Sounders, also on Aug. 26. The MLS will be scheduling more games in September.
photos by LAFC