LAFC look to make El Tráfico statement vs. Galaxy: "That's what Clásicos are for"


Just how different is the dynamic in Los Angeles this year ahead of the first El Tráfico of 2024 between LAFC and the LA Galaxy?

Even recently-arrived Black & Gold goalkeeper Hugo Lloris senses it, seemingly aware of the Galaxy's early-season surge to the top of the Supporters' Shield standings (3W-0L-3D record, 12 points).

"If they are up there, you know, it’s not about luck," the French World Cup winner said Friday of the Gs – arguably the toast of MLS heading into Matchday 8 thanks to their high-octane attack led by Riqui Puig and Dejan Joveljic, along with new DP signings Joseph Paintsil and Gabriel Pec.

In contrast, LAFC are off to an uncharacteristically slow 2W-3L-1D start (7 points), squandering a late lead last week en route to a 3-2 loss at the Colorado Rapids ahead of Saturday's marquee showdown (7:45 pm ET | Apple TV - Free; FOX, FOX Deportes; TSN 3).

Lloris, who joined in the offseason after a legendary spell at Tottenham Hotspur, knows just how far an El Tráfico win could go in turning the tide for the two-time MLS Cup finalists – having played in some of the world's biggest derbies in the English Premier League and France's Ligue 1.

"It’s a great test for us. We haven’t had the start that we expected. But we know also that the season is long, we need to reach a consistency in terms of performances, in terms of results," the 37-year-old said. "... But I believe that this game arrived at the right time for us to judge a little bit where we are."

Midfielder Eduard Atuesta, on loan from Palmeiras this season for his second LAFC stint, is equally as eager to get the club back to winning ways – against their most hated of opponents, no less.

"I remember them beating us in the past when we were higher in the standings," Atuesta, who's riding a two-game scoring streak, said on the eve of Saturday's clash. "I think it's a different game. You play with more heart, you get more nervous. So we have to enjoy it and we have to win. That's what Clásicos are for."

Whether it's El Tráfico veterans like Atuesta or newcomers such as Lloris, head coach Steve Cherundolo expects LAFC to put on a performance worthy of the occasion.

"It doesn't take much to catch up. I think you just have to understand the intensity and gravity of the moment," Cherundolo said. "And I'm very confident that our roster will rise to the challenge."