Carlos Vela -- El Trafico -- Between Galaxy defenders
USA Today Sports Images

City of stars: Los Angeles becoming epicenter of the 2019 MLS season

It would appear that Major League Soccer has gone Hollywood.

Two months into the 2019 season, LAFC and the LA Galaxy sit atop the Supporters' Shield standings. Their captains -- Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic -- are dominating the early Landon Donovan MLS MVP discussion. Weekly highlight reels are simply incomplete without a dose of both L.A. clubs. 

The Galaxy are reloaded, LAFC fine-tuned. The first El Trafico is set for July 19. As if it wasn't already, it's going to be can't-miss action for any soccer fan. How have they gotten here? 

Last year's expansion darling, LAFC earned a reputation of a club that played some of the league's most luminous and entertaining soccer, but had a fatal flaw of conceding far too often. 

Thus far in 2019, they've doubled-down on the aesthetic in attack but sharpened exponentially in defense. They lead the league in goals (26), expected goals (23.25), chances created (136), big chances created (22) and are in the upper echelon in too many more to name without being redundant. Bottom line: the attack is whirring.

Defensively, though, is where they've taken The Leap. LAFC have conceded the joint-fewest goals in the league this season (8), lending an incredible +18 goal difference after just ten matches.  

The Galaxy, meanwhile, have picked up results while yet to truly flash peak performance. Giancarlo Gonzalez has yet to start since the club acquired the defender from Serie A side Bologna, Joe Corona has been with the club for under two months and, in light of Romain Alessandrini's injury, general manager Dennis te Kloese admitted the club "would welcome" another attacking addition

Perhaps most importantly in their city of stars, each side boast one of the leading lights in the league. 

Vela and Ibrahimovic give the budding rivalry yet another dimension, as each are chasing the Golden Boot, MVP and, if form holds, a spot in the record books come Decision Day. 

Both in the standings and individual debates, for now, all eyes are on L.A. 

The season, of course, is far from over. More than a few teams with eyes on upending the two SoCal clubs' glittering start. 

In the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Sounders nearly matched their Western Conference rivals stride-for-stride coming out of the gates, but fell at Banc of California Stadium. Then, injuries and a pair of red cards could have restricted them to hearty defeat when LAFC ventured to their part of the world, but held on for a 1-1 draw. 

As far as PPG goes, the Houston Dynamo (2.29) are fractionally behind LAFC (2.3). The Eastern Conference, currently led by D.C. United and the Montreal Impact, have a handful of sleeping giants. 

Can anyone get to the jukebox and swap out California Love?


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