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Giroud reunites with Lloris at LAFC

LAFC have officially signed Olivier Giroud to a Designated Player deal through 2025 with an option for 2026. He will join the club this summer as a free agent from Italian Serie A side AC Milan. The move reunites Giroud with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, his longtime France teammate who LAFC signed this winter from English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

Midweek soccer!

A full slate tonight for Rivalry Week presented by Continental Tire. Take a look at the full schedule here.

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A Rivalry Week heat check

Rivalry Week presented by Continental Tire rolls on like a set of fresh tires on even the bumpiest of roads tonight. There’s a full slate of games for you. Some of them matter a little more than others. Here’s where tonight’s rivalry matchups stand.

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami

Oh man, remember the last time these two met?

On March 2, Inter Miami steamrolled Orlando in a 5-0 mollywhopping that could have been worse. The Herons were up 2-0 inside the first 15 minutes thanks to a brace from Luis Suarez and piled on from there. In a match where everyone expected Orlando City to come out with intensity against an in-state rival, they came out flat and got punished for it.

In hindsight, that may have been a sign of what they had waiting for them this season. The Lions have been disappointing this year. They’ve salvaged things a bit with a win last weekend against Philadelphia, but they’re still on 1.09 points per game with a -6 goal differential. It hasn’t looked good and concerns that they didn’t do enough to improve this offseason have appeared merited.

But they still have solid pieces across the field. They still have a manager who knows how to navigate difficult times in MLS. It would be surprising to see them on the struggle bus for the rest of the season. Maybe they’ve found some confidence after catching a little luck against the Union last week. Maybe they’ll be up for this one when they see their home stadium has a whole lot of pink in it. Maybe they’re prepared to put up the fight we were expecting them to put up in Ft. Lauderdale a few months ago.

Or maybe none of what you do matters against Inter Miami and the Herons come out on top anyway through multiple wonder goals whether they have Lionel Messi available or not.

No matter what, it should be entertaining, especially if Orlando show some fight.

Austin FC vs. Houston Dynamo FC

Ok, some rivalry week clarity. This game is a part of “Copa Tejas,” the competition held between all of the Texas soccer teams that features a three-way round-robin between the three MLS teams in Texas inside of the overall competition. This game is not a part of the Texas Derby between FC Dallas and Houston in which the winner earns a big ole cannon named “El Capitán.” Frankly, we don’t talk about El Capitán enough, but I’ll digress so we can focus on the matter at hand (and save more El Capitán takes for the weekend).

Austin have won the last two MLS editions of Copa Tejas. Houston have never won Copa Tejas in the three years of there being three MLS teams in Texas. And, folks, it sure doesn’t seem like they’re going to win this one either.

Houston have exactly zero points from their first two Copa Tejas games. The Dynamo fell 1-0 to Austin in Houston back in April and then lost 2-0 to Dallas the next week. They don’t have a point or a goal this year.

They can technically still salvage this though. They have a game in hand on Austin and Dallas, who both have six points. If Houston can win out, they can pull out a win. It wouldn’t exactly be as cool as winning a big cannon, but it should be noted that coming back to win Copa Tejas would potentially mean they also get the big cannon.

So. Yeah. Lot at stake here.

Anyway, Houston and Austin are separated by a point in the standings. There’s bragging rights and territory on the line. Maybe the Dynamo can fair a little better now that they’ve broken a weeks-long scoring drought that started with their loss to Austin last month.

D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls

I’m not sure how many people outside of these two teams realize this matchup has a name and a trophy. The Atlantic Cup is set for its 89th MLS meeting tonight. As far as I can tell, that makes this the league’s longest-running and most-played rivalry. It’s not Portland-Seattle in terms of longevity across multiple leagues or anything, but you have two MLS originals going head-to-head here. There haven’t been any breaks for these two between now and 1996.

Tonight’s edition is one of the most intriguing we’ve seen in a while. These two haven’t made the playoffs in the same season since 2019. That seems set to change this season.

The Red Bulls are third in the East and finally have the attacking firepower they’ve been missing the last few seasons. Lewis Morgan has eight goals on the season while new DP Emil Forsberg has four goals and two assists. New York are third in the East in goals scored after finishing 12th last season.

Meanwhile, D.C. United haven’t quite had the same success in the standings, but they’re sitting in seventh place, just three points behind New York. Christian Benteke is tied for the league lead in the Golden Boot presented by Audi race with 11 goals on the season and D.C.’s underlying numbers are among the best in the league. D.C. are currently second in the East in American Soccer Analysis’ “expected points” metric, just behind…well, the Red Bulls.

Statistically, we’re talking about two of the best teams in MLS at creating chances and limiting their opponent’s chances. Narratively, we’re talking about a reunion between D.C. United manager Troy Lesesne and his old team. Lesesne took over New York in early May of 2023 after the club parted ways with Gerhard Struber. Despite making the playoffs, the Red Bulls decided to look elsewhere for a coach in 2024.

It seems to have worked out for everyone. The Red Bulls are as good as they’ve been since 2018. D.C. are potentially the best version of themselves we’ve seen in…what, like six years? A decade?

Either way, this all puts us on track for the most meaningful Atlantic Cup matchup in a long while. The rivalry-based heat isn’t there heading into tonight. But it could be afterward.

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Good luck out there. Surround yourself with good people.