El Trafico: Predictably unpredictable.

From day one in 2018, meetings between the LA Galaxy and LAFC have been wild affairs, at times open and ragged but always captivating, fully befitting their surroundings in the entertainment capital of the world.

With three goals, two more ruled off by narrow offside decisions – one of which arrived during eight long minutes of injury time and would have been an incredible late equalizer for LAFC – and an open, relentless tempo throughout, Saturday’s clash at Dignity Health Sports Park certainly fit snugly into that brief but colorful history.

“Electric, man. these games are electric. These games are so high intensity; the last 15 minutes I was dead. Dead, man,” marveled Galaxy fullback Raheem Edwards – the only player to feature for both of these teams – after his side’s 2-1 win, where he bagged his fifth assist of the young season with a key role in the game-winning goal.

“And there's always drama. Whether you want it or not, there's always going to be drama. It’s just the type of game this game brings… you always have to be ready, you always have to have full commitment.”

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The Gs imposed themselves impressively in the first half and reached halftime with a well-deserved 2-0 lead via Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Sega Coulibaly, only to be inundated with waves of Black & Gold pressure after the break.

Chicho Arango finally broke through to halve the deficit in the 79th minute and at the end Latif Blessing thought he’d dug out a sensational leveler, only to be denied by a Video Review offside decision, crushing the spirits of the large contingent of LAFC supporters on hand.

“We wanted to give [our fans] a victory here. We were not able to do that. The reasons for that were a poor first 20 minutes,” said Steve Cherundolo afterward. “I also feel Brian [Rodriguez]’s injury put us off rhythm for a few minutes, but we did get ourselves back into the game and the effort in the second half was very good, I think our best half of the season, created a lot of chances, and we created chances in the first half too. Really, a game of two halves.”

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Though chastened by their second-half difficulties, the hosts were defiantly unashamed about the manner of their win.

“Yeah, we know we cannot take out how the game ended. But we deserved the win, we get the three points. I want that to be the narrative,” said Chicharito postgame. “I don't want to take out the credit of this win because it was a VAR decision. … He was offside, they decided.

“So we'll take the three points, LA Galaxy deserve that. We could have played way better. We could have been more ruthless. The 'could have' is always going to be there, but the result was that we get the three points.”

Cherundolo’s counterpart Greg Vanney was clearly frustrated by the Galaxy’s inability to better manage the hectic match and put things to bed with a third goal, though he was philosophical about the effects of the heat and bile that’s always simmering in this matchup.

“They’re derby matches and both teams want to impose themselves on the other; I thought we did so early in the game,” said Vanney. “[Later] I thought we were a little too passive and we were inviting them on top of us. We were rushing the final pass. We weren't keeping possession. We weren't putting anything that looked like what we do on the field and forced them to have to defend us. It felt like the game was too much in the vision of how they want to see the game.

“We certainly endured and dealt with things in front of our goal for a good stretch of it. But nobody wants to give an inch in these games and that's a big part of it.”

As wacky as El Trafico can be, Saturday’s final score continued perhaps the only reliable tendency in this bitter crosstown rivalry: LAFC can’t touch the Galaxy in Carson. The Gs are now 5W-0L-2D on home turf against their younger neighbors, and see this result as further proof that they’re headed in the right direction in year two under Vanney.

“We definitely brought fight and spirit, and that's the main thing you need to bring in these games,” said goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, noting that “the emotion, the energy from the stands definitely transposed onto the pitch” at DHSP.

“It wasn't perfect, and we can definitely be better quality-wise. I honestly feel like the first six games now, we've been good. I think we've been defensively solid. We've had a good shape. We've been good in possession. We've given up some goals on set pieces, which just killed us in some games, but if we can tidy a few things up, we're pretty solid. And we're way ahead of where we were at this point last season.”

And they’ll fully enjoy their SoCal bragging rights for three months at the very least, with the reverse fixture set for July 8 at Banc of California Stadium.

“Of course. It’s a derby,” said Chicharito, a smile flashing across his face. “We're fighting for the pride of the city. And we got it.”